OGDEN — A different kind of love story than one usually heard on Valentine's Day took place in an elementary school lunchroom in Ogden, and has as much to do with reading as it does with serving lunch — it's a recipe for student success.
On Thursday, students at Wasatch Elementary were the ones serving pizza to their beloved lunch ladies. The women volunteer to come early or stay late and read one on one with students who need help. They're known as the Cooks Books, because they feed kids with food and books.
"We have a special connection with kids because of what we do with food, and they're real responsive to us," said Bonnie Muson, one of the volunteers.
"I want to make a difference in the children's lives by helping them, because I know they're struggling." -Carmen Vallades
"When you have a healthy community — when the kids are literate — you have a stronger community." -Lorna Park
"It's just neat, the progress that they make." -Jane Fowers
The school lunch staff was already at the school serving the students, and the students said they love the cooks, so school leaders thought it was a perfect fit.
"(We want) to show that Ogden School District, all of our employees, care about our kids and want them to be successful," said Ken Crawford, with the Ogden School District.
It's a recipe for reading: 52 readers, 200 hours with the Cooks Books and a few dozen neighborhood tutors, and 50 percent of the students now read at grade level, where none of them did before.
The Cooks Books will present their program at their statewide convention this summer, hoping other lunch staff will feed — then read to — kids.