The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

February 18, 2013

Agency, students feed needs of families

Kelly Urban

JOHNSTOWN — The Learning Lamp is working to provide healthy meals for families.

The nonprofit agency recently collaborated with culinary arts students at Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center to launch the Healthy Family Dinners Project for outreach participants in the Moxham, Prospect and Oakhurst areas of Johns­town. Free meals are being offered on a monthly basis.

Angela Rizzo, The Learning Lamp’s development director, said the agency received a $500 grant from Baltimore Life in the fall to fund the program.

“Families are so busy and rushing around and don’t have the opportunity to have dinner together, so we wanted to give them an opportunity to come in and enjoy time with their kids,” Rizzo said.

The culinary arts program at the school is incorporating the dinners into its curriculum. Students create the menus and prepare the meals for low-income families.

“They try to do a simple menu so that these families can re-create (the dishes) at home,” Rizzo said.

The first dinner was held Thursday at Park Avenue United Methodist Church in Moxham.

“It went really well; half of our families showed up and all the kids were there, and everyone enjoyed it,” Rizzo said.

Subsequent dinners, which begin at 5 p.m., will be held at the community centers in Prospect and Oakhurst.

Dinners will rotate among the three locations. The next dinner will be held March 14 in Prospect.

The hope is that the program will encourage parents to become more involved with their children’s physical, emotional and educational well-being.

“It’s also an opportunity for us to build relationships with these families so we can feel comfortable with them and vice versa,” Rizzo said.

For more information, call 262-0732.


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