In wake of Hurricane Harvey, Houston students to receive free meals

Houston Independent School District announced Wednesday that in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, all students will be eligible for three free meals a day during the 2017-18 school year. The news, posted on the district’s blog, came about after HISD received approval from the USDA and the Texas Department of Agriculture to waive the application process for the National School Lunch/Breakfast Program.

“We expect families to be displaced, students to attend new schools and many of them possibly using alternative ways to travel to and from school,” Betti Wiggins, HISD’s nutrition services officer, said in the post. “We want to reduce any stress connected to food while families work toward getting their personal affairs in order.”

While HISD had opened 15 school sites as hurricane shelters, district campuses were closed Friday as a precaution, and by Tuesday, all shelter sites were forced to shut down, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Last week, before Harvey struck, the Texas Department of Agriculture approved the district’s application to offer free supper to all students, while earlier this year, HISD certified 191 of its 283 schools to participate in the Community Eligibility Program. This latest move extends those benefits to all of the 210,000-plus students enrolled in the nation’s seventh-largest district.

“All HISD students will have access to good food, made with as many local and fresh ingredients as possible and served with love and a smile,” said Wiggins, who was named FoodService Director’s FSD of the Year for 2017 during her tenure at Detroit Public Schools Community District.

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