Tahoe Lake Elementary Food and Beverage Cart for Building Communication and Prevocational Skills

Moderation state
Grant Applicant
Marnie Luxford, Tahoe Lake Elementary
Grant Co-applicants
School Site
Grant Date

This grant would fund a beverage stand/cart (lemonade, hot chocolate and coffee/tea) operation at Tahoe Lake Elementary, to be run by special education staff and students - including SDC, RSP, and speech. 

Benefits of Program

Students with special needs (18-20% of the school’s population) would run the stand and benefit from learning real world communication, social, and language skills and functional/vocational skills while participating in a school wide event, in addition to math, literacy (books for front loading), and targeted goals specific to each individual’s IEP. This would promote a healthy view of special education students as competent members of the school community. 

General education students would benefit from earning ‘cub cards’ for drinks. This project also supports the School-Wide Positive Behavior support program ‘cub cards’ by providing additional incentives for kids to ‘purchase’ with the school-wide reinforcement ‘cub card’ currency to maintain high levels of reinforcement for kids to want to earn these cards by meeting school-wide expectations and demonstrating positive character traits. Additionally, this project will incentivize being a ‘green campus’ by offering discounts to students who bring their own reusable water bottle or cup. A limited number of compostable lemonade/ hot chocolate cups will be available for the stand and will require an additional purchase. Ways to help students contribute to composting their materials will be explored to further student awareness of the importance of ‘thinking green’ which is a central feature of Tahoe Lake’s ‘science-based’ curricula. 

Teachers will also be incentivized to model having their own reusable mugs, as the coffee/Tea cart will not have disposable mugs available for coffee/Tea.  Teachers will also benefit from Coffee/Tea Delivery service. 

Additionally, this project has the potential to be extended to North Tahoe School. Many students from TLE go on to attend North Tahoe, and as the speech therapist for both schools, the coffee/lemonade cart could potentially be implemented with special education/speech students at North Tahoe as well.  

Success of Program

The success of this project is defined by participation of all students in a school wide event, whether vending or purchasing. It enhances the community of the school and encourages inclusion. It incorporates communication (speech, language, social skills, social emotional), and literacy (reading and discussing age appropriate books about lemonade, for example “Froggy’s Lemonade Stand”, “Lemonade in Winter”, “Maisy Makes Lemonade”), and math. 




Depending on the season, lemonade stand/cart could run at end of the year spring/summer activities, and hot chocolate during fall/winter months.  Special education team will collaborate around developing ‘shifts’ for adult supervisors and student workers. Team will carefully schedule students to ensure that they have an equitable opportunity to work the stand and that their particular role(s) target specific social skills/communication/vocational skills that are a part of their individualized IEP goals.  Monthly recipes related to curriculum made by students to supplement, practice, and maintain skills. 


Can you share this grant with your grade level or subject team?

This grant is intended for school use will encourage collaboration between speech language provider, resource, and SDC level special education team and can be used to  provide vending services for school activities such as back to school barbeque, movie night, end of year carnival, PTO, etc. 


Yes, it can be used throughout the entire school year and in future years. We would likely need some continued support to maintain funding for the consumable items which are a part of this grant, though we could possibly offset costs through ordering via TTUSD food services or charging minimal fee to staff to be part of the TLE coffee/tea club (e.g., 20 teachers/staff paying $5 month for delivered tea/coffee = ~$100/month * 10 months = $1,000) or charging US currency for events outside of the school day. We could also consider selling compost, if possible.

Amount Funded
Individual Budget Items(s)
$327 - Lemonade/Hot Chocolate Cart
$144 - All Weather Compost Bin
$151 - Lemonade Stand Decor/Pitchers
$152 - Hot Choc/Tea/Coffee Decor
$170 - Keurig Coffee Pot
$395 - Compostable Coffee Pods for Teacher Coffee Orders 100/Month $39.59 (September - June)
$439 - Compostable Hot Chocolate Pods 120/Month $87.94(November-March)
$69 - Compostable Variety Tea Pack 200 Pods/Year
$120 - 180 12oz Servings of Country Time Lemonade every other month $39.95 times 3 (April, May, June, August, September, October)
$35 - Cups (compostable?) for extra change and compost agreement
$30 - Teachers Pay Teachers Visuals and Resources
$50 - Books related to Running lemonade stand/coffee cart (step by step instructions, social skills)
$60 - monthly recipes related to curriculum to expand culinary experience and related skills - price per month $60
Other funding sources

Yes- Stephanie Foucek highly encouraged us to apply for the Excellence in Education Grant to fund this collaborative project which fosters vocational skills and inclusion for the large special needs population at Tahoe Lake Elementary. 



Kat Soltanmorad, director of TTUSD Nutrition services has already been contacted to ensure we could collaborate around food products and she is in full support. We’re hoping sustainability may be attained through partnership with the food services department to cut down on costs. We also hope this could be a venue to train future TTUSD nutrition services staff if students are interested in this career path.  

Thank you for your consideration!