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Take a kid to lunch

A local non-profit is looking for adults who want to have lunch with a second-grader once a month.

Raising Up Stevens County (RUSC) Kinship has started a lunch buddies program at Morris Area Elementary School. RUSC director Erin Koehntop said if there is interest at Chokio-Alberta, St. Mary's and Hancock, those elementary schools could also participate. For now, MAES wants the program, she said.

"We believe any child can benefit from an other caring adult in their life," Koehntop said. "What child can benefit from building a relationship between a community member and the student."

The program is an opportunity for adults and youth to learn about each other, to talk about school, the adult's job or former job and other topics, Koehntop said. It also encourages a love of learning outside the classroom, Koehntop said.

The lunch buddies program needs adults and it needs second-graders who want to participate, she said.

The buddy and the second-grader will spend 20 minutes reading before they eat lunch together on the fourth Wednesday of each month, except in December when it's the third Wednesday. The lunch period at MAES is from 12 to 12:50 p.m. The buddy and the student read one on one but with the whole class in one area. The buddy and student also eat lunch in the MAES cafeteria with other students.

Koehntop wants to partner an adult and student on a one-to-one basis but, if needed, one adult can be paired with two students.

RUSC sent a letter explaining the program to second grade-parents last week and plans to follow up with another letter soon.

The lunch buddies program stems from discussions between organizations about community and youth needs in the area, Koehntop said. Other mentoring, kinship organizations and schools have successful lunch buddies programs in second grade. It seemed like a good fit for RUSC to start a lunch buddies program, she said.

Buddies need to complete an application and pass a background check. Parents need to complete a permission form to allow their child to participate.

The program will start on Oct. 24. Applications for adult buddies are on the RUSC Kinship website at or at the office at 215 Atlantic Ave. in Morris.