RUPERT — For more than 15 years, students at Minico High School have been provided with the unique opportunity to make the difference in the lives of elementary school students through the Lunch Buddy program sponsored by Minidoka Memorial Hospital.
The Lunch Buddy program provides training to high school students on being positive role models and mentors, and then partners them with elementary age students that they have lunch with twice a month at the elementary school for the entire school year.
The Minidoka Lunch Buddy program has been recognized as one of Idaho’s Brightest Stars by Governor Butch Otter for the program’s success in making differences in children’s lives.
The Lunch Buddy training for the 2017-2018 school year was recently completed at Minico High School, where 25 students were selected by the school counselors and principal and successfully completed the training in mentoring skills. These 25 students will now be paired with 25 elementary students for the remainder of the school year. Principal Suzette Miller, Lunch Buddy site supervisor for Minico High School says, “The students started approaching me even before school started on being a Lunch Buddy and when the training would be. They get so excited about this program.”
Tammy Hanks, coordinator for the Lunch Buddy program, has seen first-hand how many of these students have blossomed just because someone was there to provide them with an opportunity to make a difference.
“I am a true believer that when these trained Lunch Buddies have the opportunity to help a young person, they rise to the occasion and everyone wins. I have seen and heard of many success stories and long term friendships that have formed all because of Lunch Buddies,” she said.
Hanks also said, “Keep in mind that this program does not happen by itself. The commitment that Minidoka Memorial Hospital has made to this program and the community as well as the continued support of the Minidoka County School District and the teachers that willfully give there time to help make this program work are invaluable. Most of all though is the commitment that these teens are willing to give that make the real difference.”
Hanks’ says that over the last 15 years more than 1,500 students have been involved in the program. “In my eyes, that is success,” said Hanks.