HOUSTON (FOX 26) - It can be tough to concentrate and nearly impossible to learn when you’re hungry. So free lunch is helpful, but free breakfast, lunch and dinner is even better. Every student attending HISD will soon receive free breakfast, lunch and dinner if they choose to. It’s a new program for our area beginning this coming school year.
Smelling the smoke slowly drifting from the broiling brisket, eyeballing biscuits just shy of baking and seeing fresh sliced tomatoes tells me a good meal isn’t far away here in the HISD Food and Nutrition Services kitchen. So how much will a lunch or dinner like this cost? They will be absolutely free to all Houston Independent School District students during the next school year.
“Feeding kids is always a good thing. Making sure good nutrition and good food is available to children is a good thing. A hungry child can not learn,” explains Betti Wiggins HISD Officer of Nutrition Services. She says breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided free to every student in the district thanks to the federal Community Eligibility Provision program.
"It’s based upon numbers that HISD doesn’t determine. It’s based upon numbers of kids who are at risk in the city." Wiggins says the destruction left by Harvey is one main reason Houston is qualifying to give students three free meals a day in a district where 64 percent of the kids already receive free or reduced lunches.
Parents all over Houston say this will be extremely helpful.
"I think it’s great because some children aren’t able to get free lunch,” says Ashley Green, whose 9-year-old son attends HISD.
“Children who do get free lunches, they won’t feel so bad and the ones who maybe should get it and can’t, they actually will have the nutrition and food they need,” adds mother of two Rachel Yanez.
"This is completely news to us. Pretty much after school kids are on their own and scrambling to find food on their own. So that’s fantastic,” says Roel Guajardo who we caught up with enjoying the day with his children.
“They got to have breakfast, lunch and dinner. Families are busy. It just would be a lot of help,” says Stacy Buchanan.
“And it will help them study because when a child is hungry they can’t listen. They can’t understand anything,” adds Stella Michael-Egor.
We know what’s usually served for lunch and breakfast but what will be on the dinner menu? “It’s an honest to God dinner. It’s a rib sticking, mashed potatoes and meat loaf,” smiles Wiggins.
“Green beans and the whole thing that you’d think would go with it. Spaghetti and meatballs, philly cheesesteaks. All of it is something hearty at the end of the day. It might be their last meal of the day,” says HISD Executive Chef David Husbands.
Salad bars have also been added to all HISD schools this year. Dinner will be served at each school building in the after school program. If you live outside the Houston area, contact your district to find out if they’re taking part in the program to feed students three free meals a day.