As the afternoon sun bore down on NRG Park, HISD Nutrition Services staff stood under the shade of tents with misting fans and bottled water.
With the clock moving closer to 2 p.m., they busily prepared for the thousands of people queueing up in lines that snaked through the parking lot — all waiting for food.
Coordinated by Nutrition Services in partnership with the Houston Food Bank, the mass community food distribution was the first of three planned for this month at NRG.
“There is a great need in our community. There was a great need before the pandemic,” HISD Interim Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan said. “And now, with people being laid off and changes in our economy, it’s important that we feed not only our students but also our families.”
Earlier this year, Nutrition Services held similar food distributions with more than seven million pounds of food distributed to about 160,000 families.
The latest trio of events will be held from 2 to 7 p.m. on Fridays throughout August. About 5,000 packages of community food and another 5,000 packages of student meals are expected to be distributed each Friday.
“During any major crisis in our city, we look forward to standing in the gap to service our community,” Nutrition Services Senior Operations Manager Keith Lewis said. “As first responders, it is our pleasure to provide the essential resources at our feeding sites that our fellow Houstonians need.”
The community food packages — which hold up to 86 pounds of food — include meat, peanut butter, cereal, bread, milk, and fresh produce.
One woman at the food distribution site said the food would help ease some of the stress in her life.
“There’s a lot to worry about — to struggle with — right now, said Traci, who preferred to give only her first name. “This helps make things a little bit easier on us.”
Additional distributions will occur on Aug. 21 and Aug. 28. On the final day only, school supplies donated by T-Mobile, Reliant, and Kroger also be available for students.
Community food packages are available to all. For student meals, the driver must have children in the car or show proof of enrollment in any school district (report card, student identification, etc.) or birth certificate.
For more information about HISD meal programs, visit www.HoustonISD.org/Nutrition.