HISD, Houston Food Bank distribute over 280,000 pounds of food Saturday at NRG

When HISD Nutrition Services Senior Operations Manager Keith Lewis drove up to NRG Stadium Saturday for the massive food distribution effort, he wasn’t nervous. He was excited.

As he walked up to NRG Stadium’s yellow parking lot site and saw cars wrapped around the block, his excitement grew.

“I knew we had a team of Nutrition Services employees that were going to show up and rock it,” Lewis said. “It’s what we do every single day.”

Thousands of families drove or walked to the site to receive 60 pounds of food — including items such as meat, peanut butter, cereal, bread, milk, and fresh produce — from a distribution program organized by HISD in partnership with the Houston Food Bank.

The goal of the event was to accommodate working families who are unable to visit HISD-sponsored distribution sites during the weekday.

“This is truly a massive undertaking, but we’re proud to come together with the Houston Food Bank to help Houston families,” HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said.

Workers, including 86 Nutrition Services employees and 12 HISD police officers, worked through the rain to serve 4,256 cars and 450 families on foot. Mayor Sylvester Turner, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, U.S. Rep. Al Green, City of Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, and Houston Texans President Jamey Rootes also attended.

Nutrition Services used its standard food distribution model to ensure the health and safety of volunteers, employees, and the public. Workers minimized contact with families by placing food in their trunks. Those who walked to the site adhered to strict social distancing guidelines.

“It’s important that we keep our families safe during these food distribution events,” Wiggins said. “I’m proud that we served so many families during their time of need. This is what community is all about.”

Additional organizations also assisted in the effort. The Houston Texans worked to secure the distribution location at no cost and provided a catered lunch for all workers at the site. Exxon donated $50 gift cards to the Houston Food Bank, and one was given to each Nutrition Services employee.

While the HISD and the Houston Food Bank plan for another similar effort, Lewis said he’s ready for the logistical challenge.

“We’re ready to help our community again,” Lewis said. “The need is clearly there.”