School will soon be back in session for all the children in Arkansas. Many schools around the state opened their doors today, and others will welcome students back later this week. As a former teacher and school counselor, it's hard for me not to go to school on the opening day. I'm extra aware of all things school related at this time of year, and maybe that's why my attention was drawn to an article in the Greenzine that mentioned school lunches in northwest Arkansas.
The Ozark Natural Food Co-op in Fayetteville has taken on an ambitious project. Their goal is to raise $675,000, not for themselves, but to improve lunches for school children. The Food Co-op cares about the quality of food that is served to the school children of their community. According to current figures, the USDA provides about $1.10 per child, per lunch. The ONF Co-op knows that $1.10 is not enough to buy fresh quality food for the children. They want to raise enough money so that they can add an extra dollar to every lunch, making $2.10 available for the Fayetteville schools per lunch budget.
Having spent more than twenty years in public education in Arkansas, I am amazed at this undertaking. Over the years, I have seen do-gooders donate money for needed items such as playground equipment, classroom supplies, and library books, but nothing like this on a daily basis that met the most fundamental of good health needs - fresh quality food. Many children in the public schools, for one reason or another, depend upon those school meals for their basic nutrition.
I commend them for doing what they can to get their quality food products to these youngsters in school. The children are going to be the winners here because of the generosity of the Ozark Natural Food Co-op.