Volunteering for Teens: Co-op Hands On Work Training (CHOW) Program

Co-op Hands On Work Training (CHOW) Program

no sessions are currently scheduled

CHOW is a training program offered to Co-op members for youths aged 16 & 17 who are generally work-ready but lack the experience and training to get a paying job. CHOW is designed to give graduates the ability to participate in operations as members at the Davis Food Co-op. Successfully completing CHOW provides a waiver to the age requirement for volunteering at the Co-op.

Just like in the real world job market, acceptance in to CHOW is competitive. Initial requirements are the ability to:

Follow directions;

Learn, retain and apply information;

Read and write basic English;

Speak and understand basic English;

Comply with safety instructions; and

Make eye contact with and speak to instructors (and shoppers!)

Applicants must be 16 or 17 years old on January 1.

Applicants must be members, or in the household of a member, of the Davis Food Co-op.

How Do I Apply?

If you will be 16 or 17 at the time the training starts, are in the household of a member of the Davis Food Co-op, and meet the requirements above, you may apply for entry into the CHOW program by sending an email to I'talia McCarthy.

In that email, please tell us your name, the name of the Co-op member, your age and your volunteer or work experience. Then tell us why you’d like to attend CHOW. We will contact you to arrange an interview.

What do you learn in CHOW?

The CHOW program is a 15 to 20 hour course, taught over the course of several days. Topics covered will include Customer Service, Job Safety, Food Safety, Appropriate Dress & Workplace Behavior, Job Applications, and Communication. There is a $50 fee for the training, and need-based fee waivers are available on request. We enjoy teaching it, and expect it to be a fun, lively experience. Students are permitted (but not required) to attend a cooking class during the training.

Can Teens Volunteer at the Davis Food Co-op?

To Superwork (a weekly member participation program) at the Co-op, you must be 18 years old, or have graduated high school/completed your GED, or have completed CHOW. You or your family must be members of the Co-op.

People under the age of 18 may be allowed to Member Work (a monthly member participation program) at the Co-op without additional training under certain circumstances — for example, many families volunteer as a group at the Annual Holiday Meal on December 24. If you’d like to be on the mailing list for volunteer opportunities, including those open to teens, email Julie Cross.

Why Can’t Teens Volunteer Like Adults?

Unfortunately, many teens don’t gain early work experience these days. Between increased homework demands and our affluent community, most Davis teens don’t get their first jobs until much later in life. While that may be good for their studies, it does mean that people are starting their first jobs at 18 or even older ‑ an age when many employers expect new hires to already have some of the basic skills.

While this affects the Co-op in terms of new employees, it really gets sticky when we come to member participants. Teens have participated in operations and special events at the Co-op since at least the early 80’s, and we’d like to carry on that tradition. We found more and more often, however, that the teens coming in to participate simply don’t have the skills to work independently.

Can I do my Community Service Hours at the Co-op?

Only if you’ve completed the CHOW training. The Co-op does not offer a discount in exchange for community service hours.

Can I get a job at the Co-op?

Because of OSHA requirements and Liquor License rules, the Co-op generally requires employees to be at least 18 years old.

Can I get a Job Reference if I Volunteer?

Possibly — do ask your supervisor before giving out his or her name. A supervisor usually likes to have had enough time to form an opinion before giving a reference.