At the Table
Meals in a Boys Town Family Home are a special event. For many youth, a family dinner was something they never experience growing up. Here, they not only sit down to eat, they also help plan and prepare the meals, which teaches them skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives. Regardless of what's on the table meal time at Boys Town is always an interesting time.
Lori: Meal times at Boys Town are a very busy event. We usually have 10 kids sitting around a table by the time we put our Boys Town kids and our own natural children, who are nine and 11...and with adults present, it's usually a pretty big bunch. It's, kind of, that time in the day where everyone just takes a breath from all their activities, from their electronics, from whatever distractions are in their lives, to just sit down and chat as a family.
Chris: Not everyone who's here has come from a stable family environment, so it's a chance for them to just engage. And every day, make sure that they're connecting with all the other members of their family.
Marie: It's the one time in the day that we can all come together, so it's an important time for us to be able to just talk about each other's days and, kind of, regroup. And bond as a family, and as a group, here at Boys Town.
Chris: The guys are involved in the entire process right from ground zero.
Lori: We try to focus their attention on making a well-balanced meal, so that they cover the food groups. And, you know, we have to be careful if we give them too much input, we would probably have pizza every night.
Chris: I think scheduling is a...it's a challenge for all families whether you're at Boys Town or not. We try to get everyone together for at least some type of snack. It doesn't necessarily, you know, entirely fill the void that was left, but we have something where the kids are sitting around, they're talking, they're engaged with each other, they're catching up on the day. And so, we do try to do something every single day if it's at all possible.
Lori: The thing that helps bring out topics, or gets people talking, is talking about things that are interesting to them. So, maybe prom is coming up and who's gonna go on a date, or who's gonna...what color tuxes? Or homecoming, who's the king or queen? We're playing a challenging game on Thursday, can we win? Does Boys Town have the talent? Whatever it might be that the kids would be interested in.
Marie: You know, I think we utilize the dinner time and the dinner table as...it's a big time to teach and for them to learn. You know, they not only learn about how to provide for themselves by cooking, but we also learn how to care for others.
Lon: Some of the guys get to learn independent living skills because they're helping with dinner, they're setting the table, they're helping with clean up. That's a good time also for bonding because you're talking about the day, so...It's quite a process too because you're feeding eight kids plus your own. We have two biological kids and ourselves, and then, your assistant. And when we have guests, and so our tables will get filled up pretty quick.
Marie: We teach them about, you know, being appreciative and respecting what's being provided for you. So, you know, we let them know those expectations ahead of time, and then, we help coach them, you know, during their first couple weeks here. But probably the biggest struggle we get with the kids is eating their vegetables, probably like most parents would go through, but we try to make it fun, and we try to try some new things.