The Lunch Program, one of the cornerstone programs at GTL, is an all-encompassing training platform for participants. Whether they are folding linen, counting lunch orders, or reading recipe ingredients, participants from one of five production centers are practicing their manual and cognitive skills in daily life activities. Approximately 60 participants touch some part of the process that produces a nutritional and tasty lunch for approximately 50 individuals each day. It takes organization, a project management plan, an index of tasks broken down by skills, and a synchronization of diverse activities to have it all come together each day at 12:00 pm.
More importantly are the skills being honed – counting lunch orders and side dishes, measuring ingredients, reading recipes, cleaning the food facilities, washing cookware, organizing the cupboards, setting up the food carts, and performing food preparation skills such as stirring, cutting, and shredding. These skills are exercised in a particular production center – menu inventory, ingredients and kitchen supply delivery, food preparation, laundry, and cleaning maintenance. All five centers work in harmony to get lunch on the table and clean-up completed.
Participants, with the input of their parents or guardian, choose the production center in which he or she wants to work. Their progress is checked regularly, but for many of them, it’s all about doing the work they enjoy. In the words of one participant who echoed the unanimous sentiment of her peers, “We get the job done!” It’s a grand accomplishment every day.
The true magnitude of the Lunch Program is realized in meeting its main objective – self-sufficiency and transference of skills to home life. Before learning how to program a microwave, Kim was randomly pressing buttons. Then there’s Mario whose mother did everything for him. Through the Lunch Program, he now makes his own sandwiches at home. ViVi, with proper training, learned how to use a knife to slice cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce. She is now the salad maker at her house. Also, Nii has become the baker in his family as a result of following the chocolate chip cookie recipe used for Dorothy’s Can-Do Cafe.
Congratulations to them and to all participants who taken one step closer to reaching their fullest potential.
Dan Allen became the ninth and newest member of the GTL Board of Directors in April, 2017. He brings with him a wealth of board experience, currently serving on the Boards of Directors of the Chicago Building Congress, Choose DuPage (County Economic Development), and the Workers Compensation Research Institute. Dan is the Executive Director of the Construction Industry Service Organization (CISCO), which represents union contractors and skilled union workers in northeastern Illinois. Gateway participated in the CISCO Annual Luncheon in April, providing cookies for all attendees, and personally meeting and impressing the membership, including Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. An instant bond and partnership was formed, resulting in Gateway being selected as a benefactor of the upcoming CISCO charity golf outing to be held in September.
Dan’s board experience is upstaged only by his compassion for Gateway’s participants and their families. He has witnessed first-hand the challenges in caring for individuals with intellectual disabilities. He wants to ensure that Gateway continues to be the source of a safe environment where participants can experience the independence and the freedom that comes with learning new things.
Hopefully you were inspired by the story above about our Lunch Program and see the benefits that it provides individuals at home, at GTL, and hopefully at a future job. Because of the consistent use of equipment and supplies in our Lunch Program, GTL is in search of donors willing to donate:
Featured Charity – Gateway to Learning Special Education and Training Center:
CharityChoice Gift Cards will benefit Gateway to Learning Special Education and Training Center
and the charities your gift-recipient designate as well.
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