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True to its word, the school board at Proviso Township High Schools last month bounced its cafeteria food vendor after eight long and, basically, insulting years of poor service and lousy food.

To replace Aramark Education Services the school board did not even take the low bidder. Instead it chose the third highest of five bidders, Sodexo, a food service and facilities management company based in France. 

Now we are not expecting our kids to be eating French food by this fall. But we are expecting food without mold, milk without curds and some level of service that shows respect and appreciation for our students. 

It has been a hard road with Aramark. This has gone well beyond the usual moaning over cafeteria food. A year ago Dr. Patrick Hardy, principal at Proviso East, made a determined appeal for Aramark’s ouster. “I have no confidence in this company,” Hardy told the board. “I want to say that I’m sad that they’re here.”

Sodexo, a company whose record is also not without blemish, has committed to serving fresher and more made-from-scratch food in Proviso schools. There are many ways to measure their success, mainly what percentage of students take advantage of the available food programs. We’ll also be watching Hardy’s conclusion as to whether his students, mainly black and brown, are being served with the same standards students take for granted in other public schools.

If Proviso schools are to continue to improve, it will come in some notable part from treating students as if they are valued and respected, even in the cafeteria.

‘I want my America back’

On this 4th of July in Forest Park we’re looking for fireworks and apple pie, sure. But as Etta Worthington, local progressive activist, noted on the sign she carried at last weekend’s “Families Belong Together” rally, “We want our America back.”

Imperfect but striving, great today and better tomorrow, fueled by hope not fear, connecting people not consciously dividing them, leading the world not retreating from it.

There were 10 Forest Parkers, at least, who trekked with Worthington to the Loop last Saturday to join some 50,000 Chicagoans and hundreds of thousands more across this nation, to speak out for immigrants, for American values of inclusion and fairness, optimism and truth. 

Worthington’s organizing entity is Western Front Resistance which she describes as a “grassroot network of local groups to resist the Trump agenda.” We are in support of that effort and applaud, this Independence Day, the Forest Parkers ready to stand strong.

Pride in our town

With a modest end of June start, Forest Park has dipped its toe into the affirming tradition of celebrating LGBTQ pride. This year it was a last-minute Forest Park Family Pride Day, whipped together by the good folks at Creativita.

Next year, promises Kate Webster, the commission chair, a genuine Pride Parade in Forest Park. Good fun. Good message. Good welcome.

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