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.
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.
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.
Under a cloudy sky, Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan
greeted Westbury High School students and their parents on the first day of the
But instead of navigating blue and grey painted halls that
would normally be crowded with students, she and new Principal Jerri Nixon were
busy handing out pre-packed meals to Westbury families in the parking lot.
As students across the district return to school virtually,
HISD Nutrition Services is offering daily curbside pickup for breakfast and
lunch meals at 86 strategically located schools, including Westbury.
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.
In a matter of eight days, the food distribution sites
operated by the Houston Independent School District in partnership with the
Houston Food Bank assisted nearly 40,000 families.
The 61 food distributions served approximately 1 million
pounds of food to families in need before being canceled late Wednesday. Nearly
2,000 staff and volunteers assisted with the efforts and were able to serve
5,000 families per day throughout HISD.
The cancellation of the distribution sites will remain in
effect as the district re-evaluates its process for safely delivering this
service to students and families.
HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan sat at a long white table in the Burnet Elementary School cafeteria on Monday, nibbling on a chicken biscuit and chatting with the students seated alongside her.
Gathered for breakfast on the first day of school, the conversation quickly turned into an impromptu Spanish lesson as students from the dual language school translated the menu — chicken biscuits, raisins, apple juice, and milk — into Spanish.
“Leche?” Lathan repeated carefully after hearing the Spanish word for milk. A wide smile then spread across her face. “You know what I like? Tres leches. And lot of it,” she said, laughing.