Nutrition Center

Mark Twain School forges partnership with Nutrition Center
Posted on 11/08/2022
Emily LeMaster, Noah McCrary and Andre Brown.

Mark Twain School has partnered with the Northside Nutrition Center to serve senior citizens lunch and, in addition to an elective credit, gain life experience.

Several students have been working for free at the Poplar Bluff Housing Authority’s Twin Towers from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. four days a week since September, reported instructor Darla Nunn, who presides over the Jobs for America’s Graduates program. The students are not only learning "hands-on life skills" but "people skills" in a "huge, positive atmosphere," Nunn explained.

The relationship was established when Emily LeMaster, Nutrition Center administrator, observed Nunn’s JAG students volunteering at the Bread Shed, where LeMaster also helps out. A schedule was arranged so students could clock in with timesheets and receive evaluations for a grade. 

“It helps with their credits and helps them learn work value too,” LeMaster commented. The Nutrition Center has three full-time kitchen staff members, she noted, but also is reliant on volunteers, since the operation serves 500 people who are homebound.

The head cook, Andre Brown, said he enjoys working with the teenagers and discussing how they plan to achieve their dreams. “It’s a time when they need to pick their goals, or life picks them for you,” said Brown, adding that the working environment helps create a “positive structure” for the students.

The PBHA is an independent municipal agency that provides income-based quality, safe, affordable housing. Also new this year, Mark Twain students have been volunteering at the Animal Welfare Alliance, along with mentoring at the Kindergarten Center, according to Nunn.

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Cutline: Mark Twain sophomore Noah McCrary helps head cook Andre Brown prepare fried fish, as Nutrition Center Director Emily LeMaster looks on.

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