Tips For Dealing With Seasonal Affective Disorder; Inequity In Public School Districts; Buying Groceries In Rural Areas

November 12, 2019
 

Bert Kaufmann/Flickr(CC BY-SA 2.0)

It’s mid-November, but winter is already here: complete with snow and below freezing temperatures. If you’re someone who feels down this time of year, we’ll provide some tips on dealing with seasonal affective disorder. Plus, Illinois has gotten better at providing more money to school districts that need it the most. But there are still huge gaps that have to do with how our district borders are drawn. And, rural Illinoisans often have to travel farther to get their food. We’ll talk with folks from around the state who are trying to bring more fresh and local food options into their communities.

Tips For Dealing With Seasonal Affective Disorder

We hope you enjoyed your short fall because today we’re seeing snow and below freezing temperatures throughout the state. Maybe your local school district has closed. Maybe you were stuck on I-74 yesterday, or worse: stuck at the airport. There have even been more than 1,200 flights canceled at O’Hare.

But the cold weather, and the short days, can be more than just an inconvenience. For many of us, it can also just be harder to get through the day this time of year. 

Depending on the situation there can also be a name for that: seasonal affective disorder. We asked listeners on Facebook to tell us whether they feel a change in mood this time of year and we got lots of responses.

Dr. John Stracks is an integrative family physician and an assistant clinical professor of family medicine at Northwestern University. Dr. Sally Weinstein is a licensed clinical psychologist and an associate professor at UIC.

Inequity In Public School Districts

It’s the tale of two cities in education: neighboring school districts that are worlds apart when it comes to funding. 

DePue Community Unit School District 103 in north-central Illinois, about a half hour west of Starved Rock state park, is one of the poorest school districts in Illinois. And it’s located right next to Putnam Community School District, a considerably wealthier district, where the tax base is higher and the district spends thousands more dollars per student every year. It’s one of dozens of districts around Illinois where these stark dividing lines exist. 

Illinois recently changed the way schools are funded to address these inequities. Tier 1 school districts like DePue will be prioritized for state funding, while Tier 3 districts like Putnam, will receive a majority of funding from local taxes. But has the new funding formula had an impact, and what will it take to dismantle these dividing lines? 

We spoke with Yuliana Quintana. She graduated as valedictorian from DePue High School last year and she’s now a freshman at Lake Forest College in Illinois. 

We also spoke with Lee Gaines, an education reporter from Illinois Newsroom and Illinois Public Media. She reported on some of the funding discrepancies between neighboring school districts in the state, including Yuliana’s home district in DePue. Read the story here.

Rebecca Sibilia also joined us. She is the CEO of the nonprofit EdBuild, which focuses on addressing inequities in education. EdBuild found nearly 1,000 side-by-side school districts with vastly resources.

Buying Groceries In Rural Areas

For many Illinois residents in rural and agricultural communities, options for fresh and local food can be limited. Over the past few decades, local grocers have been closing their doors, and in some cases, replaced by superstores like Walmart and Dollar General. These chains have been able to offer lower prices for less-healthy options. 

Meanwhile, 2.3 million rural households face hunger, according to the non-profit Feeding America. And, according to the USDA, millions of rural residents have to travel 10 miles or more to buy their groceries. 

Today, we thought we’d check in with some of the folks who are working on ways to offer more local, healthy and fresh food options directly to their communities. 

From Western Illinois University, Sean Park is the program manager for the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs. Molly Gleason is the communications director for the Illinois Stewardship Alliance.