Waimea, Hawaii – VIDEO by David Corrigan
Can it be that budget cuts, and the subsequent bureaucratic back and forth, have left one school in Hawaii no choice but to make “stone soup” for lunch?
Waimea Middle School, the first charter conversion school in the state of Hawaii, is one of the few schools empowered to stay open on the infamous “Furlough Fridays”, when all public schools are shut down because of an agreement between the cash strapped state of Hawaii, the Department of Education, and the teachers union.
Although the school can circumvent the Furlough Friday closure, a strange loophole still prevents the staffed cafeteria from feeding the kids.
According to school officials, the DOE has decreed that Waimea Elementary School cafeteria staff, who are contracted to regularly feed middle school students, may not prepare and serve breakfast and lunch on Furlough Fridays, even though they are UPW members and are “on the clock.” It’s beyond the control of the cafeteria staff.
Faced with the challenge of providing healthy snacks to support student learning and encourage attendance on DOE Furlough Fridays, Waimea Middle School turned to the old French tale of stone soup to provide sustenance; a teachable moment for the kids.
The tale is known around the world: A poor, French village feeds itself with a communal soup, using at first only a stone as the sole ingredient, but then other sparse contributions from the townsfolk are added, one at a time, in the hopes of improving the taste. Before long, the village had unintentionally created a satisfying meal that fed the whole population.
Following the spirit of the old storyline, Waimea Middle School students were asked by their homeroom teacher to bring one ingredient – such as a cleaned, chopped potato, carrot or onion. The Mala’ai school garden also contributed fresh Kabocha – delicious Japanese pumpkin – and fresh herbs grown by students. The teachers, students and staff rallied to prepare roasters of magical Portuguese Bean Soup in the certified home economics classroom for all to enjoy.
“We thank our teachers and staff for turning a challenging situation into a great life lesson for our students and we thank our families for helping by contributing one ingredient,” said Principal John Colson. “We won’t need home lunches this week; magically, there’ll be plenty of delicious ‘Stone Soup’ for all.”
“Like making lemonade from a lemon” said one school employee.
Or soup from a stone.