Thinking Outside the Kitchen

I enjoy delicious food, and I have a new-found love of homemade shampoo, but the topics that keep me up at night and tug at my heart are issues that make many of my blog posts seem meaningless.  Yesterday’s church service was focused on equality for ALL children and specifically incidents of injustice in our very own Chicago-land area (not your typical sermon, right?!).


Here are some facts and ideas that caught my attention:

  • In one south western suburb of Chicago, elementary school students receive around $7,000 in educational funding (per student) each year.
  • In another suburb on the north side of Chicago, each student receives over $24,000 in educational funding each year.
  • In many low-income areas, classes in the fine arts and foreign language are not offered, while other schools in high income neighborhoods require that their students take enrichment classes from elementary school through high school.
  • A CPS 3rd grade teacher who attends our church is in need of chapter books because her students are eager to read more challenging books and literally do not have them.

As a college admissions counselor I walk into different high schools each day, I meet with students from a variety of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, and I sense obvious disparity between schools based on the income level of people in that particular neighborhood.  It seems so unfair to me that a student’s ability to take classes in the arts, enjoy individual attention from their teacher, or even feel adequately prepared for the ACT test is largely determined by their parents’ income level.  It seems like this system will only perpetuate the cycles of poverty and inequality that exist in our city.

I get overwhelmed thinking about these huge systemic issues, but I appreciate that our church comes up with practical steps in working towards change.  For this particular issue, and from a big-picture perspective, members from our church have partnered with Community Renewal Society and are advocating for changes in the way that funds in IL are allocated to schools.  Second, to get involved in a small but hopefully meaningful way, we’re hosting a book drive and collecting chapter books for the 3rd grade teacher who desperately wants to provide her students with fun and challenging reading material.


If you are interested in donating a 3rd grade chapter book and live in the Chicago or Oak Park area, leave a comment and I’ll find a way to get those books!  Here is a list of chapter books recommended for 3rd grade students: 3rd Grade Chapter Books.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue!

Thanks for reading this non food related post.  I’ll be back tomorrow and the rest of the week with more typical posts about veggies. 🙂


5 thoughts on “Thinking Outside the Kitchen

  1. Hi Jess – Just a thought… Do you think your teacher friend knows about DonorsChoose? I’ve had literally hundreds of brand new books donated to my school through that site. This week on DC all donations are doubled if you use the code “pumpkin” at check out. I know that probably won’t be enough time for her to get a proposal up, but they do matching offers like that fairly often. Good luck!

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