Dozens of Nutrition Services employees gathered by black tents as cars snaked through the parking lot at Barnett Stadium – a Neighborhood Supersite where families can pick up student meals, family food boxes, and household supplies.
But this Wednesday, the team was surprised with a proclamation from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner designating Friday, May 7, 2021 as HISD National School Lunch Hero Day.
“Today, we celebrate Nutrition Services employees,” Interim Co-Chief Operating Officer Eugene Salazar said as he presented the proclamation. “This proclamation acknowledges your outstanding achievements and unwavering dedication to families and students in our community.”
School Lunch Hero Day aims to recognize school nutrition professionals for the valuable work they do. The annual celebration stems from author Jarrett Krosoczka’s Lunch Lady, a graphic novel series featuring a crime-fighting Lunch Lady whose mission is to serve up justice while serving up lunch.
Accepting the proclamation on behalf of the nearly 1,600 employees in Nutrition Services, Operations Manager Carol Chin said she was grateful for the recognition.
“We have been working nonstop since the pandemic because the children are our number one priority,” Chin said, holding the proclamation tightly. “Our community is still hurting, but we are strong. We will keep finding ways to feed our children and care for families so that our students can be achievers.”
Printed on parchment paper adorned with the city’s skyline and gold seal, the proclamation highlighted the team’s efforts to feed families over the past year. The department developed new distribution models while maintaining school cafeteria service for students learning in-person.
“I am so proud of our team and their valuable accomplishments,” Senior Operations Manager Keith Lewis said. “Their drive to serve students and the community — no matter the situation — never ceases to amaze me.”
The proclamation also noted that the team has worked six days a week since the start of the pandemic, staffing more than 10,000 distribution sites, distributing more than 44 million pounds of food and household supplies, and preparing and serving more than 8.8 million meals.
“We know that our front-line workers are special individuals,” said Nutrition Services Officer Betti Wiggins said. “They leave the safety of their homes to make sure others in our HISD family are fed. That’s what heroes do.”