July 25, 2018
Each summer, Feeding Laramie Valley hosts the Kids Out to Lunch (KOTL) program. The program provides a free lunch and activity for kids 18 and under. Adults are welcome too, but we kindly ask for a $1.50 donation. Sign up is not required and everyone is welcome! The program runs from June 11th to August 10th. We serve the community with fresh, delicious, and healthy meals daily from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The daily activity starts at 12:30 p.m., which includes arts, crafts, reading books, and games. We also have a Gardening Club and Scrapbooking Club that meet separately once a week. The KOTL staff, Ashley, Josie, Lakyn, Mariana, and Sarah, will be sharing some stories of their summer so far and tell you a little bit about themselves.
Being AmeriCorps VISTA Associates, through Feeding Laramie Valley, allows us the chance to give back to the community, as well as, deepen our relationships with the community. We would like to tell the community a bit about ourselves in the hopes that the community can gain a more wholesome picture of our backgrounds and why we chose KOTL.
Josie and Lakyn came into this program with prior experiencing working with children. Josie is majoring in Environmental Systems Science and Natural Resources. She joined the KOTL team so she could meet new people and socialize with kids, which she loves. She has past experience working in the food industry, so she brings an amazing atmosphere to the KOTL program. For the past two years, Lakyn has worked at an after school program with kids of all ages. She is getting a Masters in Social Work and hopes to stay in Wyoming throughout her career. Both Lakyn and Josie share the same passion of wanting to give back to the Laramie community.
Sarah, Mariana, and Ashley chose the KOTL program for the same overarching reason as Josie and Lakyn; to give back to a community that has given them so much. Sarah is working towards being a teacher, so the KOTL program is a way for her to stay connected with her community when school isn’t in session. Mariana is working on her Agricultural Communications degree. She sought out the KOTL program, so she could make a difference to the kids in the community. Ashley has lived in Laramie for about 6 years and has enjoyed every minute of it. In the fall, she will be pursuing her Masters degree in Public Health. Her experience with the Kids Out to Lunch program has been a wonderful stepping stone into her new career path.
We have enjoyed our time here and have made some memorable experiences. On one occasion, the main serving table buckled and the roaster pan full of mac and cheese hit the floor! Thankfully, one of the parents attending lunch that day saved it from spilling, so no mac and cheese was lost that day. Another memorable moment was encouraging kids to try new foods by pairing it up with Ranch dressing. Everything's better with Ranch! It gets kids to eat their greens.
We have also enjoyed seeing the day-to-day kids flourish in the home-like environment we created. The kids, who were more quiet from the first two weeks of the program, have become the most outgoing and enthusiastic. As a result, this experience has been rewarding for us. Over the past months, we have gotten to know each other better and became friends. We have also become master fruit and vegetable choppers and learned how to shop for large groups at the grocery store. The KOTL program is almost over and we are still anxious and excited to see how the menus and activities will be received. The final weeks leaves us with a touch of sadness, but also a sense of pride at all that we have accomplished for another successful Kids Out to Lunch summer!