Blake Farmer

Ninety percent of students at Hobgood Elementary in Murfreesboro, Tenn., come from low-income households. Most of the school's teachers don't. And that's a challenge, says principal Tammy Garrett.

"If you only know middle-class families, you may not understand at times why they don't have their homework or why they're tired," Garrett says.

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"Chow bus! Chow bus! Chow bus!" chants Gunner Fischer, 3, as a custom-painted school bus rounds the corner and rumbles toward his apartment complex in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

About 21 million students nationwide eat free and reduced-price meals throughout the school year, but getting those same kids fed during the summer is a challenge. Only a fraction of those make it to schools or community centers for summer meals.

Leaders of the country's largest Protestant denomination have a message for millennials: get married already.

The Nashville-based Southern Baptist Convention and its nearly 16 million members continue to resist societal trends like gay marriage and cohabitation. They also want to go against the grain on the rising marital age.

But back in 1972, Pam Blume was pretty typical. She was just a few years out of high school when she walked down the aisle.

It's Saturday in East Nashville, Tenn., and LaTonya White finds herself knocking on a stranger's door. It's awkward. Someone peers out at her through the window. White looks away, pretending not to notice. After an uncomfortable few seconds, the door finally cracks open. White seizes her chance:

"My name is LaTonya White. I'm the principal at Rosebank Elementary School. How are you doing?" she asks, glancing at the clipboard in her hands. On it: a list of families in the area with soon-to-be kindergartners. "Yes, you should have a child ready to come to school soon."

Country music singer and songwriter Ray Price died Monday at the age of 87 at his ranch in Texas. Price was a Grammy Award Winner and who had more than 100 country hits in his decades-long career. A 1996 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, he was credited with pioneering a shuffle beat and walking bass line that became standard in Texas dance halls.

When it comes to union organizing at an auto plant, the tension is typically between the workers and the management. But not at Volkswagen in Tennessee. There, the United Auto Workers is attempting to finally unionize the automaker's first foreign-owned plant in the South. And so far, Republican officials are the ones trying to stand in the way.

There was a time when hymns were used primarily to drive home the message that came from the pulpit. But then came the praise songs.

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On a momentous Thursday, it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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We're expecting Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to make an announcement today. From now on, women will formally be allowed to serve in ground combat.

INSKEEP: To sense just how dramatic this change is, consider how many other milestones the military passed before reaching this one. The move for women comes 65 years after the Armed Forces ended racial segregation.

One thing 2012 will surely be remembered for is the deadly fungal meningitis outbreak which swept across the country. In total, 39 people died and more than 370 people were sickened after a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts released tainted drugs. Blake Farmer of member station WPLN reports from Nashville, Tenn., on where the outbreak was first discovered.

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Homecomings at the nation's military bases are treated as occasions of the highest order. This morning, more than 100 families at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, waited for hugs and kisses before the sun came up. Blake Farmer of member station WPLN was there.

BLAKE FARMER, BYLINE: The 747 touched down just before sunrise.

JOHN KING: Look at that big old plane.

JACK BELZER: That's giant.

Federal health authorities says the number of people infected with meningitis has risen again. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 14 people have died and 170 people have been infected. Thousands of people received the infected steroid shots and are awaiting news whether they will develop meningitis.

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Some other news. Women who work for Wal-Mart - the world's largest retail chain - continue to make claims they get paid less and are not promoted as often as men. Current and former Wal-Mart employees have now filed a court case in Tennessee.

As Blake Farmer of member station WPLN reports.

BLAKE FARMER, BYLINE: Three women are named. Attorney Scott Tift says each has a first-hand account of discrimination.

The U.S. Army has been ramping up instruction in the languages of Afghanistan, even as troop levels in the country decrease in preparation for the U.S. troop withdrawal in 2014.

This year, key installations have added several hundred speakers of Pashto and Dari to their ranks, more than doubling the number of soldiers trained in the Afghan languages.

But it's not just the country's languages that are foreign to U.S. soldiers — it's the culture, as well.

Hundreds of Muslims in Murfreesboro, Tenn., gathered on Friday afternoon for prayers in a new mosque that has — at times — divided the community.

Debate over the building coincided with disputes over the so-called Ground Zero Mosque in New York. The congregation in Murfreesboro weathered a bomb threat, arson attempts and a court challenge. But members say the pain was worth the prize — a proper mosque to worship in after decades meeting in a cramped office space.

The imam called it a day of forgiveness. He also spoke against violent extremism.

When the economy began its steep decline in 2008, almost everything related to housing hit the skids, including the lawn and garden industry. But one sector escaped the pinch: food gardening.

In fact, food gardening sales nationwide have spiked 20 percent since then, and they've stayed there. While many households started growing food to be more budget-conscious, some are deciding vegetables and fruits can be beautiful, too.