Houston ISD abruptly halts food distribution program after suspected COVID-19 case

Houston ISD, HISD
Houston ISD planned to distribute food to families across the Houston area from 39 school sites, including this one at Westbury High School, through at least March 27. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)

Houston ISD planned to distribute food to families across the Houston area from 39 school sites, including this one at Westbury High School, through at least March 27. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)

Houston ISD announced it would suspend its free food distribution program as of March 25, cutting short the planned effort by two days, after an individual at one of the sites was potentially exposed to the coronavirus.

That individual is under self-quarantine, and all other volunteers and staff at that site have been notified and instructed to self-quarantine as well, the district said. According to a statement provided to the media, the district is taking a pause to "re-evaluate its process for safely delivering this service to students and families."

“This is a difficult decision to make, but the safety of the community, staff, and volunteers is our top priority,” interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said in a district news release. “We are proud that in the past two weeks we have provided meals for thousands of Houston families.”

The district directed families needing food assistance to visit one of the 47 sites where the city of Houston is distributing meals for youth or to visit any Houston Food Bank partner site.

The food distribution program was launched after the district announced it was canceling class as of March 13, with five locations and later expanded to almost 40, and was slated to end March 27. The program was also suspended March 23 because of weather concerns.


In a previous interview with Community Impact Newspaper, Lathan said the program had served over 14,000 households over 4,900 pounds of food in its first four days.

"The big success is, we’re reaching people, including HISD families and people who don’t have children in our district and even senior citizens. We’re reaching our community and that means a lot," Lathan said.

Supplies were provided by the Houston Food Bank and was staffed by volunteers from the bank as well as the district.

In the interview, Lathan said that if the food bank could not support the program with food past March 27, the district would use its own supplies to serve students' families exclusively, as it does through its free and reduced-price lunch program, which has been able to offer free breakfast and lunch to every student for three years.
By Matt Dulin
Matt joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2018 and is the City Editor for Houston's Inner Loop editions.


MOST RECENT

Gov. Greg Abbott at a press conference
Gov. Greg Abbott to allocate $171M from CARES Act to help renters at risk of eviction

Gov. Greg Abbott will allocate more than $171 million in renters assistance from the federal coronavirus relief package to eligible Texans.

Menu items include fried, grilled and boiled seafood platters as well as Cajun staples ranging from gumbo and shrimp etouffee to boudin balls and po'boys. (Courtesy The Catch)
Cajun eatery The Catch coming to Willowbrook and more Houston news

Read the latest Houston-area business and community news.

The North Houston Highway Improvement Project proposes re-routing I-45 through the East End and Fifth Ward and expanding it through the Northside. (Nathan Colbert/Community Impact Newspaper)
TxDOT releases environmental report, a pivotal step in I-45 rebuild

The report is one of the final steps before the project rerouting much of I-45 through downtown can begin.

2020 voter guide, i voted sticker
November 2020 election: Here are the candidates on the ballot for Harris County local races

Your guide to voting locations and who's on the ballot for Harris County races this November.

The Christian Community Service Center, a coalition of 40 area churches providing social services, is moving into its new building after about a year of construction. (Courtesy The Christian Community Service Center)
After yearlong project, Christian Community Services Center moving into new building

The Christian Community Service Center is moving into its new building.

Houston ISD
Houston ISD extends deadline for parents to opt out of in-person learning

Parents that do not respond will be automatically counted as an "in-person" choice in order to facilitate planning.

Fewer than 500 COVID-19 patients—478—are currently checked in at Texas Medical Center hospitals. (Community Impact staff)
Texas Medical Center COVID-19 hospitalizations drop 30% in three weeks

Fewer than 500 COVID-19 patients—478—are currently checked in at Texas Medical Center hospitals.

Memorial Elementary
Three Houston ISD schools earn Blue Ribbon honors

Memorial Elementary, the High School for Law and Justice and the Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy are all first-time recipients and are among 26 schools nominated in Texas.

The board of directors for METRO has approved the $1.15 billion FY 2020-21 budget. (Courtesy Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County)
METRO board approves $1.15 billion budget for FY 2020-21 with 23% revenue loss

The approved budget is down nearly 14% overall from last year.

A 112-foot art installation is on display at College Memorial Park Cemetery. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)
Art installation honors Black soldiers killed after Houston Riot of 1917

The project is part of a grant program to commission public art in each of the city's 11 council districts.