Lunch is a rite of passage amongst high school students. Most people can think back to their high school days and remember, amidst the countless memories, sitting in a cafeteria or going out to lunch with their friends as a way to unwind and socialize to break up the school day.
It is this rite of passage that the Unified Club is determined to protect with their monthly inclusive “Local Lunches.”
The Unified Club, which is sponsored by the Special Olympics of New Jersey, has a mission to create opportunities where students with disabilities and without disabilities alike can enjoy each other’s company, learn from one another, and create friendships through inclusive activities and events. Rutherford High School has been a Unified Champion School (UCS) since the 2019-2020 school year.
Special Olympics of New Jersey encourages participating schools to adopt a Lunch Mates program where students without disabilities sit with students with disabilities to foster positive relationships. The Unified Club at Rutherford High School has increased this lunch program’s potential for good by using this opportunity to support local businesses as well. Every month, the Unified Club chooses a local restaurant– often on Park Ave.– to have lunch together. Good food, good friends, and good for the community!
“All students can benefit from a dedicated, inclusive lunch program. In recent years, students have been unable to enjoy each other’s company at lunch due to the pandemic. It is a great time for kids to get together and enjoy a meal just for the sake of fun,” advisor Erica Prinzo said.
So far this year, the Unified Club has visited Rutherford Pancake House, Azteca, and Steven’s Cafe. In years past, the club has also visited Matera’s and Jim Dandy’s. They plan to make this a regular trip to the benefit of the students and the community.