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Stacey Black and Toña Aguilar

In the spring of 2011, the Eugene School District announced that it would no longer serve lunches in its four charter schools. For Stacey Black and Toña Aguilar, parents at the Waldorf-inspired Village School and members of the Eugene Coalition for Better School Lunches, a group that lobbies for changes to mass-produced meals, it was a golden opportunity. "My husband said, 'Now's your chance,'" Black reports. "I asked Toña if she'd like to write up a proposal. We had the summer to plan." The pair studied national school lunch requirements, made lists of kitchen supplies they would need, and started a "can you help" campaign around town. When the Village School opened last fall, they were ready with the Village Kitchen, featuring a menu based on local organic foods and prepared fresh daily. "I've always loved to cook," says Aguilar, who worked as a chef while in school at the UO and started a catering business. The two moms share one full-time position as school lunch-ladies and rely on a small army of volunteers to help get things done. They serve double the number of lunches as last year, and make enough money for the school to hire a kitchen assistant. "We're having so much fun," says Black, "and, hopefully, turning some heads in the district."

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 2 February 2012

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