La Casa Cultural Latina offers free lunch, well-being program for students


The Daily Illini file photo

La Casa Cultural Latina, Native American House, Asian American Cultural Center and Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center line Nevada Street in Urbana. La Casa is one of the cultural houses hosting the Lunch on Us program.

By Luis Velazquez, Staff Writer

Cultural houses and resource centers are offering the Lunch on Us program on campus for students to learn more about improving their own well-being.

The Lunch on Us program is offered in different cultural houses, such as La Casa Cultural Latina, the Asian American Culture Center and the Women’s Resources Center.

At La Casa, the program occurs every Thursday and runs from noon-1 p.m. Presentations and lunch are provided to students who attend the event during that time.

Siyao Zhang, sophomore in AHS and president of Fitness Peers, gave a workshop at La Casa for Lunch on Us on Feb. 6 about exercising at home. Zhang said she hopes students will follow the workshop to better accommodate themselves. However, Zhang said she thinks the student body might not be aware of the resources offered by the University, such as Lunch on Us.

“One of the things that we are trying to focus on is how to promote our program and resources so students can utilize them, even if they are not affiliated with organizations,” Zhang said.

The presentations vary from topic to topic, but they generally revolve around some sort of self-improvement.

Jorge Mena Robles, assistant director at La Casa, said the purpose of Lunch on Us is to be a useful resource for students on campus. Robles said it is a collaborative program with other resource and cultural centers.

“We all have a date during the week that we host it, and the idea is so that students see the Office of Inclusive and Internal Resources centers does work together (with La Casa),” he said.

Another important factor of Lunch on Us is giving students the opportunity to eat, Robles said.

“One big piece is to be able to provide food, and we know that one way our community builds another community is through food, and so that is the purpose … being able to provide lunch for students,” Robles said.

The Lunch on Us program is funded through the Student Cultural and Programming Fee.

“That program is a fee that students pay and that fee is meant to pay for cultural programming,” Robles said. “So we use it, we apply for funding, we go to a hearing and if the funding is approved, we have Lunch on Us.”

Yarit Alcantara, junior in LAS and worker at La Casa, said this resource is a good method to help students develop in a professional matter. However, Alcantara said she also believes students may not be aware of programs such as these.

“I hope that they save money and that they know they are basically paying for all these lunches, but they just don’t know that this resource exists,” Alcantara said.

Robles said he hopes Lunch on Us at La Casa will open a new perspective on the community.

“I hope students who come to Lunch on Us are able to connect with each other,” Robles said. “It’s open to everyone on campus, so it provides a good place for the campus community to learn more about Latin America and Latinos. I hope it builds community.”

[email protected]