PISCATAWAY – Salads made by Future Foundations Academy (FFA) students have become a popular lunchtime choice on the Educational Services Commission of New Jersey’s (ESCNJ) Piscataway campus.

A school for higher functioning students ages 13-21 with Autism Spectrum Disorders, staff has been placing approximately 100 orders, costing $5 each, on days the salads are offered.

 “The salads are healthy, taste good, and the process is effective because it helps students build their vocational and behavioral skills,” said Teacher Lindsey Medeiros, who oversees the program with Teacher Emily Simmonds.

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 The FFA students work with teachers and instructional aides preparing the salads in the school cafeteria, a process that is completed over the course of three days.

The FFA, whose focus is helping students live independently to the fullest extent possible, will expand when it moves to its new 50,000 square foot facility on the Piscataway campus in September.

 The salads rival the quality of restaurant salad bars and include: romaine lettuce, spinach, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, celery, olives, peppers, croutons, nuts, shredded cheese, and chicken.  A baked breadstick and a choice of four salad dressings are also included with the order.

“The students enjoy the experience and are learning to both follow instructions and collaborate effectively,” said Ms. Medeiros.

“The process also presents students with opportunities to practice their social skills when interacting with adults, and use their math skills when collecting payments from the staff,” she added.

The FFA is part of the ESCNJ which provides services and programs for school districts statewide, and operates six schools in Middlesex County for student’s ages 3-21 with autism spectrum disorders, multiple disabilities, and at-risk behaviors. The largest Educational Services Commission in New Jersey, the ESCNJ coordinates transportation services for over 12,000 students, and manages a 1,200 member Co-op Pricing System, the largest cooperative buying program in New Jersey.