I am both honored and a bit afraid of participating in the NWA Poverty Challenge. I like that my role as the Superintendent of Bentonville Schools allows me the opportunity to use my position to expose the brutal realities that many of our families in NWA face each day. Food insecurity is a reality for more families than many of us recognize. In Bentonville schools, our 28% Free and Reduced Lunch population seems low; however, it represents over 4,500 students.
The United Way of NWA challenged me to experience poverty by only spending $5 per person per day for a week. Let me repeat – a budget of $5.00 a day! When presented with this number my first thought was, I think I can do this. Next, I opened the refrigerator and quickly came to a conclusion that my choices were going to be dramatically different the week of April 4-8. I have yet to make that shopping trip but it is easy to see that fresh fruits and vegetables will not be an easy purchase within this budget. I also have quickly come to realize that my diet drinks and coffees are off the table and water will be the choice for fluids.
My plan is to present another blog post early next week to share more of what I bought and how this new reality is affecting me. I also want to use that blog to share how many families choose to spend their resources on food items as a result of limited funds and sometimes limited time.
Finally, the intent of my involvement and the hope of the United Way is to gain your support. I have partnered with United Way to allow you to share donations that can help families in need. Here is a link to donate http://unitedwaynwa.org/give/ . As you post your contribution please make sure to type “Bentonville Schools Virtual Food Drive” in the comments section. All money raised next week, as well as the week of April 10 – 15, with this comment will be donated to the Pack Shack.