by Cori Hilsgen
A Joe Town Summer Lunch and Learn program meeting will take place from 7-8 p.m. Monday, May 19 in Heritage Hall at the St. Joseph Catholic church.
The summer lunch and enrichment program is for youth 18 and younger. The lunches would be made in St. Cloud through the YES network, which is an organization started by a number of individuals working for change in our area. The YES network plans to serve lunch at several locations. Enrichment activities such as art, games and more will also be offered at the St. Joseph site.
Current plans being considered include possibly offering the lunches and activities at Centennial Park and Klinefelter Park three to four days a week from mid-June to mid-August.
The summer lunch program is a partnership event of the Central Minnesota Catholic Worker, St. Joseph area churches, College of St. Benedict Community Kitchen and other members.
Church of St. Joseph member Erinn Hawkins said she hopes to see relationships formed among youth and adults. She also hopes to see children sharing food and fun together. Hawkins said she chose to be involved because summertime is a great time for her children and her to become more connected and involved in the area. She also said she loves to feed people.
“I think the Summer Lunch program is needed in order to help support families in our community – plain and simple,” Hawkins said. “Losing the school-lunch option for summer can place a significant strain on a family’s budget and the Summer Lunch program is a simple way to help ease that burden.”
Another St. Joseph Catholic church member, Mary Plafcan, hopes this program will bring people together as they work to solve the needs of others.
“As a community we need to try to ensure all children have proper nutrition and learning opportunities,” Plafcan said. “I feel so blessed and want to be able to use my time and talents to bless others.”
Resurrection Lutheran Church member Jeanie Wilkins became involved with the program because of a study initiated by the Central Minnesota Catholic Worker which revealed how many people are struggling financially and otherwise in St. Joseph.
“I agree with the philosophies of the Central Minnesota Catholic Worker, which is leading the Summer Lunch and Learn and Joe Town Table and seeking to learn more ways in which they and local faith communities can make St. Joseph a better place to live,” Wilkins said.
Anyone who is interested in participating, volunteering or learning more about the summer-lunch program for youth 18 and younger should plan to attend the meeting or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.