Growing up during the late 1970s and 1980s in Houston’s South Park neighborhood, Chief Operating Officer Brian Busby and his childhood friends could never tell that anyone around them was going without or in need.
It wasn’t until he was an adult, he said, that he came to understand more about some of the choices that his family had to make — like always cooking at home and never eating out — to stay within their budget.
“There are a lot of families that go without food during the holidays,” Busby said. “It’s important for us to do what we can do address their needs, especially during the holiday season.”
The meals served to HISD students undertake a unique journey before arriving at school cafeterias, and Research and Development Chef Christopher Keegan is an essential part of that process.
Keegan is responsible for producing tasty creations that are nutritious, cost-effective, easy to prepare at the school level, and have accessible ingredients.
“I enjoy coming up with dishes that don’t look like school food,” said Keegan, who works for HISD’s Nutrition Services. “I’m constantly looking through magazines and cookbooks. We’re starting to do more international dishes, and we’re also looking at some vegan recipes.”
School may be out for winter break, but cafeterias will be open at five HISD high schools, where Nutrition Services will offer meals free of charge for all children ages 1 to 18.
Booker T. Washington, Chavez and Madison high schools will serve breakfast and lunch during winter break. Additionally, Yates High School will serve lunch only, and Revere Middle School will serve breakfast only. Children ages 1 to 18 can enjoy a healthy breakfast and lunch at no charge, while adults can purchase breakfast for $2.75 and lunch for $4.
“We know our students can’t learn and thrive without
healthy food to fuel them — and that need does not stop just because schools
close for the winter break,” HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said.
“Ensuring student health, safety, and well-being is one of our strategic
priorities, and this program takes us one step closer to achieving our goal.”
The Houston Independent School District’s Transportation Services department will spend the new year focusing on recruitment efforts as it works to hire 30 more drivers by March.
The department will begin hosting monthly bus driver job fairs in February 2020 as part of continuing efforts to make sure all routes are fully staffed, and additional drivers are available to provide coverage when employees are absent.
Transportation Services General Manager John Wilcots IV said three job fairs will be held each month — one on a Saturday and two on weekdays. The upcoming job fairs are expected to give the department a head start on staffing for the summer and the 2020-2021 school year.
Following a purple carpeted path, students, staff, and community members walked through an inflatable Panther tunnel, that led to a dining commons area decorated with purple and silver balloons in celebration of the Northside High School grand opening ceremony.
Festive holiday music filled the space as guests heard student performances from the Northside High School Jazz Band, Dancing Pantherettes, Choir, Ballet Folklórico, and Cheerleaders.
“This campus not only allows us to clearly express ourselves, but it inspires us to be more creative,” Northside Senior Jacquelin Ricalday said. “It’s great for current students, future students, and our community overall.”
Visitors from Pittsburgh Public Schools toured DeBakey High School for Health Professions recently to learn more about the state-of-the-art campus and Nutrition Services.
Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent’s Chief of Staff Errika Fearbry Jones said their district’s strategic plan includes adding another science-based school and incorporating scratch cooking into its food services.
“Houston is cutting-edge, so we’re coming here to kill two birds with one stone,” Jones said. “You’ve got to bring people along if you want them to buy in.”
Parents flooded the Lantrip Elementary School cafeteria Thursday as they joined their children — clad in pilgrim hats, white bonnets, and colorful turkey headbands — for a nutritious Thanksgiving lunch.
The annual celebration hosted by HISD’s Nutrition Services has attracted thousands of families to school cafeterias for more than 50 years. This year’s menu included roasted turkey with gravy, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, a fresh fruit medley, and ice cream.
“We get a ton of volunteers, but it takes everyone,” Lantrip Principal Magdalena Strickland said, noting that about half of the school’s 700 families participate in the Thanksgiving lunch each year. “When parents know you care for their kids, they’ll go above and beyond.”
Transportation Services has eliminated more than two dozen routes as part of an ongoing comprehensive review of bus ridership at 15 select schools.
The review is focused on schools with low ridership, despite having a high volume of students who are eligible for transportation and have been assigned routes. Reviews have been completed at nine schools, with the remaining six to be finished before the end of the year.
The department has cut 25 routes since the start of the review, bringing the overall number of routes down to 775 — a five percent decrease.