NORWAY — Banking on the assumption that everyone eats lunch, Healthy Oxford Hills and Guy E. Rowe Elementary School are inviting volunteers to take part in a new mentoring program, Café Club. They are looking for adults to share lunch once a week with a class at the school to provide students with healthy perspectives on eating habits and behaviors.

“A major focus for Healthy Oxford Hills is to promote healthy eating choices through fun and informative programs for children in schools,” said Holly Stuhr, HOH’s Community Nutrition Educator. “We believe that when kids see adults practicing good eating habits and making healthy choices, they are more likely to adopt similar behaviors themselves.

Guy E. Rowe Elementary School Principal Douglas Kilmister shares lunch with a group of students. Submitted photo

“Role models are important, and often kids don’t have them when it comes to mealtimes. So, for one day a week, starting in November and extending through the school year, we are soliciting volunteers to spend a 20-minute lunch break with one of the K-6 classes at Rowe.”

So far six Café Club mentors have signed up. The goal is to get 30—one for each of the class rooms at Rowe School. Stuhr said they plan to start with 4th and 5th-grade classes, and once that has been completed other grades may be chosen on a first-come, first-serve basis. Volunteers select their day of the week. They can purchase a school lunch or brown bag it with their own healthy foods.

Lunch break times vary, starting at 11 a.m. and running for twenty-minute intervals until 1:10 p.m. There are a total of seven different break periods.

“This is an easy way to give back to the community,” Stuhr said. “We chose to place our pilot Café Club at Rowe School because its in-town location is convenient to get to. For adults whose children or grandchildren are students at the school, it’s a chance to spend time with family and get to know their peers. For people whose families are far away, it can be a comfort as well.

“And this is not lunch duty. The only expectation is for volunteers to have social interactions with kids over a meal.”

Café Club mentors should be eighteen or older, complete Oxford Hills School District’s volunteer form and pass a background check. Training for the program will start on Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 1:30 p.m. at Rowe School. There volunteers will be introduced to staff and receive orientation of the school’s guidelines. Café Club will kick off on November 4. Additional training session dates will be added during the school year to accommodate additional sign-ups.

To volunteer in the Café Club program, call 207-739-1075 or email Holly Stuhr at Healthy Oxford Hills for an Oxford Hills School District volunteer and criminal background check forms.

Healthy Oxford Hills’ mission is to build partnerships that improve the quality of life for Oxford Hills’ citizens, serving the communities of Brownfield, Buckfield, Denmark, Hebron, Hiram, Norway, Otisfield, Oxford, Paris, Porter, Sumner, Waterford and West Paris. Funded through both public and private funds, HOH is one of 27 Healthy Community Coalitions across the state working to make Maine a healthier place.

HOH’s Community Nutrition Educator position is funded through the Maine SNAP-Ed grant. HOH, SNAP-Ed and University of New England are all equal opportunity providers. Maine SNAP-Ed is funded by the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which is administered by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and implemented statewide by the UNE through contracts with local community organizations. Maine SNAP-Ed educates low-income families on low-cost healthy eating and active lifestyles. Contact [email protected] or 207-221-4560 for more information.


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