For a lot of families, the holiday table doesn’t feel complete without a turkey as its centerpiece.
Nutrition Services will be able to provide that holiday hallmark — and a little extra holiday cheer — for up to 5,000 HISD families thanks to a partnership with and generous donation from No Kid Hungry, a nonprofit organization that aims to end child hunger.
Up to 5,000 turkeys will be distributed to Houston families just ahead of HISD’s winter break during Neighborhood Supersites scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 12 and Wednesday, Dec. 16. The turkeys are funded by an $80,000 donation from No Kid Hungry.
As the district prepares to close its doors for Thanksgiving, Nutrition Services is ramping up efforts to ensure all students have access to healthy food during the week-long break, which kicks off Monday, Nov. 23.
All campus curbside pickup locations will offer seven
days’ worth of student meals on Thursday, Nov. 19 — the final campus curbside
pickup date prior to Thanksgiving break. Typically, campus curbside pickups
offer three to four days’ worth, but not a week’s worth.
Additionally, a third Neighborhood Supersites will be held
at Sugar Grove Academy on Saturday, Nov. 21 — the final community distribution
before Thanksgiving. The new location is in addition to two existing
distribution sites on Saturdays and one on Wednesdays.
As in-person instruction continues across HISD, Nutrition
Services has partnered with teachers and other campus workers to create a safe
and healthy environment for students to be well-fed and ready to learn.
The department has created health and safety protocols to
ensure safety and curb the spread of COVID-19. District students are served
breakfast and lunch. Individual campuses can choose either the classroom or
cafeterias for lunchtime, depending on the needs of each school.
Steps include washing or sanitizing hands and sanitizing
tables before meals, as well as requiring masks and physical distancing for all
students and staff. Meals are individually wrapped, and students are seated in
designated areas to allow for distancing and staggered arrangements.
As the holiday season approaches, Nutrition Services is opening
a third location for its weekly community distributions of food and other
Starting Wednesday, Nov. 11, Barnett Stadium will host a
weekly Neighborhood Supersite from 2 to 6 p.m. The district had planned to
re-launch the Wednesday site this week but there was a delay in the delivery of
The distribution at the stadium, located at 6800 Fairway
Drive, will be in addition to the Saturday sites at Hattie Mae White
Educational Support Center and Hexser T. Holliday Food Services Support Center.
Facing hundreds of cars in a line that stretched down the street
and around the block, it would have been easy for Nutrition Services staff
overwhelmed at their first neighborhood supersite in southeast
But for a department known for its dedication to keeping families fed
and well-nourished, it was all in a day’s work on Wednesday — the launch of
weekly community food distributions.
Hosted through a partnership with the Houston Food Bank, the supersites
provide a place where Houstonians can go each week to pick up 32-pound family
food packages and a week’s worth of student meals.
As the district prepares to resume in-person learning this month, Nutrition Services is transitioning from daily to twice-weekly curbside pickup for student meals and launching two Neighborhood Supersites as part of a weekly community food distribution initiative.
The move to
twice-weekly campus-based curbside pickup begins Monday, Oct. 12 thanks to a
waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It allows families to pick up
several days’ worth of meals at each pickup — three on Mondays and four on Thursdays.
Supersites are designed to provide standing times and locations where the
community can pick up 32 pounds of groceries — including produce, dairy, and
meat — for their families, as well as a week’s worth of student meals.
Nutrition Services Chef Trainer Brittany Jones is used to teaching others how
to prepare tasty, nutritious meals. Now she’ll get to share her expertise with
others around the state thanks to a virtual learning seminar.
Jones recently visited Texas A&M University where she filmed culinary demonstrations to be included in virtual lessons for the Learn, Grow, Eat, and Go program offered by Texas AgriLife Extension’s Junior Master Gardener program.
Learn, Grow, Eat, and Go curriculum is used in select HISD elementary science classes to teach students about gardening, nutrition, and physical activity to promote long-term health. Nutrition Services hopes to share the new virtual lessons, which complement the in-person curriculum, all HISD elementary teachers via science curriculum coordinators.
A group of Windswept Gardens Apartments residents made their way
through the complex’s tree-lined central courtyard, which sits just a few
hundred yards from the speeding cars and unending traffic of the Southwest
Clad in face masks and carefully keeping their distance from each
other, the families gathered around a blue tent where HISD’s Nutrition Services
staff were handing out student summer meals in the afternoon sun.
The district has long offered a free summer meal program for
students throughout the greater Houston community. In previous years, children
would come to local schools to eat. But the COVID-19 pandemic changed the game,
prompting Nutrition Services to look for innovative and safe ways to feed kids
without a cafeteria.