Taste of the Neighborhood: Community Outings for Middle Schoolers
By Rachel Stempel, School Counselor at 45th Street
At Aaron School, the middle school program is constantly evolving to create opportunities for our students to develop their independence. One such way is that when students reach 6th and 7th grade, they participate in a weekly Community Lunch program which gives them the chance to go out of the building and purchase lunch from a local eatery. Students are provided with a list of select restaurants, from where they would like to purchase their lunch. Students are encouraged to plan their meal choices ahead of time so they feel prepared when they arrive. Staff members serve as chaperones to accompany the students to- and from- the eateries, as well as to provide support in the ordering process if needed. Since the start of the school year, the restaurant employees have become familiar with our program, are aware of our students’ needs, and are happy to see us every week!
Middle school students also participate in supervised weekly trips to the year-round farmer’s market. Students peruse the eclectic vendor stands, interact with vendors, consider where our food comes from and how it is produced, and purchase items such as fruits, vegetables, baked goods and even flowers to take home!
The goal of our lunch outings and visits to the farmer’s market is for students to increase their independence while developing important life skills: how to interact with adults, consider prices for goods, count money, pay using cash, interpret a menu, place a food order, and choose a healthy well-balanced lunch. Our staff members supervise and monitor closely with the hope that by the end of the year, our students will gain increased confidence and require minimal adult intervention. It is both exciting and rewarding to witness our middle schoolers become budding young members of the community!