High schools focus on good food at Spring Cookouts

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Standing in a line that snaked across the school courtyard, hundreds of Chavez High School students shuffled under bright blue tailgate tents, eager to enjoy hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken sandwiches.

“We got some really good food, and I wish I could grab seconds,” said Chavez senior Corinthia West regarding the recent Spring Cookout at her school. “I think the whole school came out, and we all enjoyed each other. This is fun!”

The midday celebration was part of a Spring Cookout series hosted by HISD’s Nutrition Services department. The Cookouts, held at 10 high schools this spring, are designed to boost school lunch participation and encourage students to eat healthy meals.

Similar celebrations — Fall Tailgates — were held at HISD high schools across the district last semester.

“When we have fresh food and good food, like we do here today at Chavez, a lot of students come out and eat,” said Principal Rene Sanchez. “The kids are having burgers and hot dogs, and enjoying themselves and the weather. They are definitely happy. We’re having a beautiful day.”

Nearly 3,000 students gathered outside as a deejay played music that reverberated through the courtyard, prompting several students to dance. Some Lobos congregated in grassy areas, tossing footballs and playing games of Cornhole, while others crowded around picnic tables enjoying the snacks.

“I wish we had these all the time,” said West. “I loved the food, I loved dancing, and I loved interacting with people. We need more of these.”

Many students seemed to share West’s sentiments.

“Everyone in the school just came outside and was here together,” said Chavez senior Safari Thompson. “This hasn’t happened in a really long time. With Hurricane Harvey and everything else, everyone has been really divided. This has really brought us together.”

Additional cookouts are planned this week at Carnegie Vanguard High School on Wednesday, Sterling Aviation High School on Thursday, and DeBakey High School for Health Professions on Friday. The final cookouts are scheduled for Washington High School on May 2 and Westbury High School on May 3.