BEECH GROVE, Ind. — Dozens of schools in central Indiana served up an important lesson Friday afternoon with their lunch. It's part of a national effort to make sure middle school students don't feel alone.
Lunchtime on Friday at Beech Grove Middle School meant there were plenty of reasons to laugh and smile.
"People don't really think that your problems are real and stuff, but they definitely can be, and at that age, you're stuck a little," eighth-grader Leila Lashbrook said.
Behind the chatter, Lashbrook said even in a crowded lunchroom, some have never felt more alone.
"I've seen a lot of people go through pretty difficult times and feel really alone. Lunch can feel really lonely, horrible when you don't have anybody to sit with," Lashbrook said.
Beech Grove is among 25 schools across the state participating in a national program.
"I think they told us that something was happening a few days prior, but I didn't have an idea what was going on," Lashbrook said.
The goal is simple: Make sure no one eats lunch alone.
"Today is national No One Eats Alone Day, but it's also about being kind to everyone you see," said Elizabeth Sons, service administrator for Managed Health Services Indiana. "As an adult, it's my alone time to sit by myself, but for kids, they really need to feel like they fit in."
MHS is partnering with nonprofit Beyond Differences to deliver an important lesson to tens of thousands of young Hoosiers.
"The main subject was about bullying and just be nicer to each other," Lashbrook said
It's a message that educators hope will carry with them year-round.
For more information on No One Eats Alone Day, click here.