Coffee selection has new perk, thanks to Rachael Ray grant

Jun 21, 2022

ROCHESTER — The coffee selection will soon perk up at Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School, thanks to a $5,000 Rachael Ray ProStart Grow Grant recently received by the culinary arts department.

The competitive award will allow the department to upgrade their specialty coffee offerings and training, said Samantha Clarke, a culinary arts teacher and Old Colony graduate who submitted the grant application. 

This will help students gain employment at local coffee shops, Clarke said. Even the most basic chains now offer forms of specialty brews, she said. 

But before receiving this grant, the school couldn’t say the same. 

The department’s beverage equipment consists of a standard one-pot Bunn coffee maker with a hot water spigot, a blender shared between three departments, six pump bottles of flavorings, and assorted tea bags, Clarke said.

“While this is adequate for providing flavored coffee to the staff, it does not support employment,” she wrote in her grant application.

The funding will allow the school to purchase an iced tea brewing system, a quiet blender, an espresso machine and smaller, related equipment to broaden students’ training experience, Clarke said.

Funded by proceeds from sales of products that bear the celebrity chef’s name, The Rachael Ray Foundation was launched by Ray to better support causes she supports, including sharing her love for cooking. 

For recent Old Colony graduate Melanie Weed, the new equipment will offer students an important perk.

“I feel as though I am missing out on learning beverage classics in a new and trending way,” she wrote in a student essay that accompanied the grant application. 

Clarke hopes the new equipment will be in place by the start of the new school year.