Students, guests, school staff, and local leaders crowded Aitoro Thursday night for the Norwalk Education Foundation's 5th Annual Taste for Education fundraiser to support excellence and innovation in Norwalk Public Schools.
The Norwalk Education Foundation is an independent organization whose mission is to support excellence and innovation for nearly 11,000 students within the Norwalk's 19 public schools through teacher effectiveness, parent outreach, and student programs. The event was sponsored by local businesses, restaurants, and franchises. Organizers say they expect to raise about $15,000.
"It adds to what we are able to give them through the city," said Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling. "It's always good to find foundation money, money from local corporations, but this is a local non-profit and they work very very hard, and they buy a lot of things we normally couldn't afford."
"We just want to raise achievement for every kid," said Gloria Tenofsky executive director of the Norwalk Education Foundation. "So that every kid can follow their career path, whether it's college, or another path, we want to provide them with a background so they can do that."
Along with vendors, student chefs from middle through high school cooked up special recipes with home-grown produce.
"We have several gardens around Norwalk and we took fresh produce from our gardens and we made butternut squash soup and eggplant stuffed mushrooms," said Norwalk High School senior Mitchell Ronzittei.
"Here in the pot we have homemade butternut squash soup, the squash was grown in our garden, the garden provided to us by "Norwalk Grows" and with the help of the Middle schoolers from Nathan Hale and Mr. Ted White who is the culinary arts teacher there, we made these mushrooms together."
Rilling says he's trying to increase the amount of money Norwalk Public School systems get from the state and seek out money from private foundations to help close the achievement gap.
"There's a lot of corporate dollars out there that are untapped that we don't really go for. So some of these corporations have money that they have to give away," Rilling said. "So we need to do a better job of going out and getting that money."