Safeway is doing more than selling food to hungry islanders. Employees at the Oak Harbor supermarket are giving eager business students some much-needed real-world experience.
Several dozen students from Oak Harbor High School’s DECA business program descended on Safeway Wednesday and learned how each of the 14 departments work. They shadowed employees and enthusiastically pitched in to help.
“We have 40 kids rotating around doing different jobs,” said Eric Peterson, DECA instructor. The students, ranging from freshmen to seniors, scattered throughout the store and spent time working in the various departments. DECA students were happily stacking produce, decorating cakes, checking people out at the cash registers and preparing food.
Sadi Foltz, a senior, and Laurrin Bates, a sophomore, spent months organizing the training day. In addition to working with staff at Safeway, they had to coordinate with Bank of America and the Starbucks kiosk, both located inside the store.
Foltz wrote a detailed schedule for the students to follow. She tried to make sure each student had a chance to work in their favorite department while making sure labor regulations were followed.
Foltz said the most popular departments were Starbucks and the floral department.
“It’s kind of interesting to see all the different jobs and how they work,” said Josh Duhrkopf as he prepared chicken at the meat and seafood counter.
Senior Tiersha Cutler said it was been fun working in all the different departments. She was ready for anything.
“I was just coming in with open eyes,” Cutler said while stocking produce.
Peterson said the students will submit a written project based on their experiences at Safeway to the state DECA competition.
Staff at Safeway were obviously thrilled to help the students. Susan Boonstra, who has worked with the students since mid-December on the event, said the students were eager to learn and she was impressed by their willingness to participate and work with employees.
In addition to providing a chance for students to gain business experience, DECA members also helped a charity.
Students manned booths at both entrances to Safeway and collected goods for the Ronald McDonald House in Seattle.
Junior Alexa Bindschatel said people were generous in dropping off toiletries and canned goods to benefit the house for cancer victims’ families. Halfway through the five-hour training session, students had already collected three boxes of goods and Bindschatel had to head back into the store to find another box.
Overall, the effort benefited students, Safeway employees and a worthwhile charity. Foltz and Bates, presumably, earned an “A” for their organizational efforts.