Misericordia University, Dallas School District and Metz Culinary Management are reaffirming the old proverb “it takes a village to raise a child.”
The Misericordia Social Work Program will hold the second Dinners for Kids Benefit from 4 to 8 p.m. March 26 at a Touch of Class Catering in Wilkes-Barre.
The Dinner for Kids program was founded in 2011 by David and Edna Tevet, owners of Ollie’s American Restaurant in Edwardsville.
The couple used their means to prepare healthy meals for food-insecure children in the Wyoming Valley West School District, and the program has grown each year since its inception.
Misericordia became involved three years ago when social work students began interning for Dinners for Kids, providing services such as tutoring and educating parents on balanced nutrition.
In 2016, the non-profit began serving children in Dallas School District after partnering with Misericordia and Metz.
Misericordia Social Work Chair Dr. Sue McDonald said appropriate nourishment is vital to a child’s ability to learn.
“A couple of years ago, King’s (College) did a study for Dinners for Kids, and the results support that when students have proper nutrition from Dinners for Kids, there was an improvement of performance in school,” McDonald said.
She said Misericordia’s involvement has offered a rich opportunity for students to learn and grow.
“In three years, a lot has happened,” McDonald said. “It’s really moved from sending two student interns to Dinner for Kids to organizing a child poverty panel to having a benefit to delivering food to children.”
McDonald, who now sits on the board for Dinners for Kids, facilitated the integration of the program at Misericordia and instructed social work students in the Methods and Processes II class that is now taught by Assistant Professor and Director of Field David Hage.
The class, Hage said, is about group theory.
“The Dinners for Kids program is a service component of the class,” Hage said. Students “are trying to raise awareness about childhood hunger and raise money to sustain programs throughout the year.”
Hage said students are learning the “organizational paths” to producing the fundraiser, engaging in tasks such as preparing educational materials for patrons, coordinating with the venue and volunteers, booking musicians for entertainment, soliciting businesses for donations, preparing baskets for raffling, and dealing with the media.
“They are learning roles they’ll need to run task groups in the future,” Hage said.
Hage said students are also working in a separate therapeutic group as part of the class.
“They can take the theory they learn in class and make it very real and support a cause like Dinners for Kids,” Hage said.
The benefit will feature a cash bar, full buffet, bake sale and live musical entertainment by Tom Waskevich, James Duffy and Robb Brown.
McDonald said last year’s benefit raised enough money to purchase a much needed refrigerator for the non-profit organization and that this year’s focus will be keeping up with the increasing cost of meals.