This week I was visiting Northwest Arkansas for The Farm’s Harvest Festival and my friend Mike Rusch connected me with Marian Riner, Families in Transition Coordinator for the Fayetteville Public Schools.
Being honest, when we walked into Marian’s office I didn’t expect a food pantry or large clothing room. That’s not what you think of when you envision a public school. But the truth is in today’s world we are seeing more and more homeless families with school-aged children.
To put a little bit of perspective Fayetteville is a pretty affluent community. Bentonville, the neighboring community, is the home of Walmart, and there are maybe more millionaires in and around Fayetteville than any other communities in America. But there is also extreme poverty. When I first visited three years ago the homeless count was 1287. Now the homeless surveyed reaches well over 2,000. And please remember, any statistic relation to homelessness is a best a good guess. Homeless people, and especially homeless families are not raising their hands to be counted.
Last year this school district of about 9,000 students 264 of them were homeless. That is unacceptable!