On May 16th, our afternoon session of six trainees, plus Harvest Kitchen staff, visited Agnes Little Elementary School in Pawtucket for the school’s last “Homework Diner” series of the school year.
Our group served the 200+ parents and children that attended the collaborative community event. Everyone enjoyed the Italian buffet that was donated by local restaurant Spumoni’s. The trainees experienced a different aspect of food service at the Homework Diner — serving a significant number of people via two buffet stations. Our trainees practiced their skills in communication, teamwork, multitasking, and accommodating customer needs while there, learning through hands-on, real-life experiences.
Not only was it fun to be part of this community gathering, experiencing collaborations like this one is an important aspect of helping our trainees envision and build their future paths to success!
Agnes Little is a community school, meaning they actively seek out partnerships with local businesses and organizations to collaborate on strengthening Pawtucket and providing expanded opportunities to students and their families. Homework Diners are evening programs that bring together students, parents, and teachers to work together on student homework. Not only do the kids get extra academic instruction, but the parents receive support to help their children accomplish that homework, which is often very challenging (multiplying fractions anyone?!). After the academic portion of time is over, everyone comes together for a meal. Food always brings people together, and it helps take the burden off parents of preparing a meal that night. Plus it makes the gathering more enjoyable — and more of a draw!
It is powerful for young students to see their teachers and parents working together to ensure their academic success. Talking over a meal helps strengthen the school-to-home connection that is a major factor in academic achievement. One of the goals is that parents will hopefully feel more confident and empowered to help with homework after these sessions, not to mention feeling more comfortable talking with the teacher whenever needed! Homework Diners first started in New Mexico, and they received a lot of positive media attention (for example, this feature on NBC News).