Facility tour showcases how Nutrition Services is mobilizing to safely feed families

When Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan arrived at the HISD Hexser T. Holliday Food Service Center, she was eager to tour facility operations, but precautions had to be taken first.

Upon entering the facility, her temperature was taken just footsteps inside the door — a safety precaution and clear sign of the times as the world endures the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In the weeks since our district closed, we’ve worked hard to meet the needs of our community,” Lathan said. “This visit is a great opportunity to get an up-close look at how the entire food distribution process begins.”

Lathan — accompanied by U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw — stopped by to see the inner workings of the district’s food distribution efforts, which include a partnership with the Houston Food Bank to provide at least 12,500 30-pound bags of food to Houston families each week via 25 distribution sites.

Nutrition Services Officer Betti Wiggins and her staff led the group through various areas of the facility.

“It’s beyond what I ever could have expected,” Crenshaw said. “You see how quickly everyone is moving, how organized they are, and how motivated they are. They know they’re doing something amazing for the community.”

While the campus-based food distribution sites handle heavy traffic each day, the Hexser T. Holliday Food Service Center is an especially busy place, serving as the central hub of the effort.

The group observed staff packing fresh produce into food distribution bags in the cold production area. They made stops in freezers and dry storage as they made their way to the loading dock where bags are placed onto trucks destined for distribution sites.

“This is truly an impressive sight,” Lathan said. “I’m proud to see our employees going the extra mile at a time when the community needs them most.”

As the group wrapped up their tour of the facility, Crenshaw said he feels confident about the city’s ability to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve gone through hardship before as a city and as a country,” he said. “We’re going to look back on this time and be proud of how we all acted. We can say that we engaged in this hardship with fortitude, good humor, and treated our fellow citizens right.”