Cars began lining up at NRG Stadium as early as 5:30 a.m. on Sunday as Houston families sought fresh water and food in the wake of this week’s devastating winter storm and the havoc it wreaked across the state.
Some in line lost food because of mass power outages. Others don’t have access to clean water because of citywide boil water notices.
“It’s like starting from zero,” said Sara Cavitt, who lost electricity for more than 48 hours during the winter storm. “I’m a single mom of three young daughters, and I was denied SNAP benefits. This food donation will help us immensely.”
Coordinated by the Houston Independent School District in partnership with the Houston Food Bank, the community distribution at NRG was one of three sites scheduled over three days to provide disaster relief.
Leading the effort were crews from HISD’s Nutrition Services and the Houston Food Bank, as well as other volunteers. Houston Texans Owner Cal McNair and his wife Hannah also were at the site, as were the Houston Texans cheerleaders.
Throughout the event, more than 4,600 trunks and pickup beds were loaded with protein, produce, milk, water, and other necessities.
“It has been a difficult week for us in the city of Houston and also this entire state,” said HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan, who helped load cases of bottle water into waiting cars.
“But I am so thankful for our Nutrition Services department and the Houston Food Bank for continuing to do what we’ve been doing for over a year now in serving our community and ensuring nutritional needs are met.”
Nutrition Services has worked six days a week since the pandemic hit nearly a year ago to help feed students and families. Nutrition Services Senior Operations Manager Keith Lewis said he was continually amazed by his team’s dedication to the job.
“Regardless of what my employees may be going through in their personal lives, they are willing to come out and do what we can for our community,” Lewis said.
The first distribution was held on Saturday at HISD’s Barnett Stadium. The final distribution is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 22, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center, 4400 W. 18th St.
Families still in need are encouraged to visit the final site on Monday. Similar items will be available.
Houston Food Bank President Brian Greene offered encouraging words to those still reeling from the winter weather.
“We’re with you,” Greene said. “I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. But your community is behind you.”
Nutrition Services will resume its regularly scheduled student meals and community food distribution efforts this week. For more information or an up-to-date list of sites and times, visit HoustonISD.org/StudentMeals. Families are encouraged to check the website for temporary closures before going to any location.