For more than eleven years the Lunch Bunch has been meeting and eating at DART Transit in Eagan. I had the pleasure of joining the diners one Friday while they noshed on pizza at Old World Pizza in Inver Grove Heights. It was obvious within the first few minutes that I had stumbled into a group of friends who share extensive food interests, enjoy laughing together, and sincerely care about each other.
Joe Rangel, the Lifeworks job coach at DART Transit, started the job site along with his team in February of 1999 doing a variety of clerical tasks. Originally they traveled to and from work in a Lifeworks van. One tradition that was quickly established was going out for food and fellowship during Friday lunch. But when Lifeworks needed the van for another job site Joe was no longer able to transport his team of four in his car. That’s when the DART employees came to the rescue and the Lunch Bunch was born.
Now there are approximately twenty members of the Lunch Bunch who on a rotating schedule help Joe take his group to a different restaurant each Friday. Joe says that the DART employees know his clients so well that they even help guide everyone toward healthy meal choices.
James Beard, the famous chef, once said, “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”
Having the DART employees help Joe and his crew go out to lunch is so much more than pizza or sandwiches on Friday. It is a gesture of friendship that lasts long after Friday. I listened to the group banter back and forth during our time together and heard real camaraderie, stories about favorite lunch spots, birthdays, past memories of other outings and old friends, and future ideas for their upcoming lunches.
Sharing Friday lunch has become the vehicle to build friendship, create inclusion, and generate fun. I asked Joe what the favorite spot for the group is and everyone chimed in, El Parian in Eagan. Guess I will have to see if I can get a repeat invitation!
Thank you DART employees for sharing your lunch, your time, and your friendship with Lifeworks.