Amongst the blooming plants and swarming insects that lay claim to a sprawling green space in Southwest Houston, stood the youngest of instructors who was developing a buzz all her own.
In her final weeks as a senior at Lamar High School, Lisa Rollinson was tapped to lead educational workshops for nearly two dozen students at the Food and Agriculture Literacy Center at Mykawa Farm.
As one of just five experts selected for the job, Rollinson received the honor after being designated by the Texas Department of Agriculture as one of 12 Health Ambassadors for a Ready Texas. The designation recognizes teens who advocate for healthy lifestyles.
The Houston Independent School District is launching its 2021 summer meals program this week, in conjunction with the start of summer school.
As part of the summer meals program, Nutrition Services will host weekly curbside student meal pickup at 10 of the district’s highest-need campuses. The distributions will be held at the end of each week and provide students with meals for the weekend, as well as hand sanitizer and reusable masks.
Weekend meals also will be provided to students enrolled in summer school. They will receive no-cost breakfast and lunch at school each day as well as meals to take home for the weekend at the end of each week.
“As we have learned from this past year, we have an overabundance of students from food-insecure households in HISD,” Nutrition Services Officer Betti Wiggins said. “I’m grateful that we’re able to provide this program to help ensure our students continue to have access to good food through the summer.”
Campus curbside pickup locations include:
Sam Houston Math, Science, and Technical Center, 9400 Irvington Blvd.
Northside High School, 1101 Quitman St.
Furr High School, 500 Mercury Drive
Chavez High School, 8501 Howard Drive
Milby High School, 1601 Broadway St.
Washington High School, 4204 Yale
Braeburn Elementary School, 5550 Pine St.
Bonham Elementary School, 8302 Braes River Drive
Almeda Elementary School, 14226 Almeda Road
Jane Long Academy, 6501 Bellaire Blvd.
The first curbside pickup will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on Friday, June 18. Students will receive two days’ worth of breakfast and lunch to eat over the weekend.
Beginning Thursday, June 24, all remaining pickups will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on Thursdays to better align with the district’s summer work schedule. On Thursdays, students will receive three days’ worth of breakfast and lunch to eat over the weekend.
The program is slated to run through the end of summer school.
Nearly two dozen students craned their necks to see the green plants and bright, booming flowers as their buses arrived Wednesday at the Food and Agriculture Literacy Center at Mykawa Farm.
As they got off the bus, they bounded toward a hollowed-out tree trunk, eager to visit the workstations designed to help them connect classroom science to real-life agriculture, nutrition, and the natural world.
“We’re here today to share with you how food comes from the soil and ends up on your plate,” said Marcus Glenn, Area Manager for Nutrition Services Food and Agriculture Literacy.
The Food and Agriculture Literacy Center at Mykawa Farm is a working educational farm that integrates nutrition and food science with core curriculum to provide students with hands-on learning experiences.
Nearly 1,200 cars and trucks looped around Barnett Stadium under a blazing sun, waiting for their final distribution of family food and household supplies from the Neighborhood Supersite at Barnett Stadium.
First in line was father of seven Enrique Alvarado, who said he was thankful for the support because the pandemic had negatively impacted his job.
“I am grateful that my children were able to get food, especially milk,” he said.
HISD Nutrition Services launched its community food distribution program last March, just days after the district had to close its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As students and staff arrive each morning at Baker Montessori School, they’re cheerfully greeted with a flock of clucking chickens.
The laying hens bob their heads up and down, trilling softly as they make their way around the large, enclosed chicken run safely housed near the gym. Some begin squawking, having laid their daily egg in the nesting area.
They waddle toward the entry and peck at the ground as a small group of students from Baker — formerly known as Wilson Montessori School — comes in to visit.
On sunny weekends, parents and students gather in the Baker Montessori School garden where they pull on gloves and grab rakes and trowels to remove weeds and leaves from the musky soil.
The students at Baker — formerly called Wilson Montessori School — are learning to grow fragrant flowering herbs and study their uses. Once the flowers bloom, students will cut some of the plants and infuse them in oil or dry them to make spices or teas.
With just three weeks left in the school year and public health conditions improving across the city, the Houston Independent School District is preparing to shut down its Neighborhood Supersite community food distribution program.
The two final distributions will be held this Wednesday, May 26, 2021 and next Wednesday, June 2, 2021. Both will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. at Barnett Stadium, 6800 Fairway Drive. No further Saturday distributions are scheduled.
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.”
First-grader Nidarshani Chinthagunta gasped and her eyes widened as a bright turquoise bike adorned with white balloons was wheeled into the T.H. Rogers conference room where she stood sandwiched between her mother and school principal.
Grabbing the 20-inch Titan Tomcat by the seat and handlebars, she carefully eyed the new bike as she whispered a shy, “thank you.”
Nidarshani was one of two grand prize winners in the district’s “Blast Off with a Healthy School Breakfast” art contest held in honor of National School Breakfast Week in March.
More than 60 students submitted original artwork using the breakfast theme. A panel of judges from the district’s Nutrition Services and Fine Arts departments selected the top winners at the elementary and secondary levels.
As students begin to think about the future, Nutrition Services Culinary Educator Brittany Jones is working to ensure they’re equipped with a key ingredient for success — the basics of cooking.
Chef Jones is one of two educators who teach “Get Growing Houston” classes at Attucks Middle School and Worthing Early College High School. The 10-week classes were piloted at the schools to help students learn the importance of good nutrition and the fundamentals of cooking.