With all the tension and anxiety associated with the Coronavirus it’s important to recognize the governmental entities that are doing good. Pasadena ISD and the Harris County Department of Education stand out in this regard. Since Houston ISD is working with the food bank they are excluded from the analysis.
Most, if not all, school districts are providing free breakfast and lunches for students. Pasadena ISD is going above and beyond. They recently expanded their program to include any child under 18 years old in addition to Pasadena ISD students. Their online statement regarding the meal amiability can be found on their web page under the free breakfast and lunch expandable box approximately 1/3 of the way down.
What follows is their statement regarding the program:
Official Statement about Grab-and Go breakfast and lunch meals
Pasadena Independent School District is UPDATING AND EXPANDING the curbside grab-and-go free breakfast and lunch program. We will begin Monday, March 23, 2020 and continue every school day until we are back open. Parents may drive by the below locations to pick up a breakfast and lunch meal for each child who is present in the vehicle. No meals will be available for parents or students walking up to the campus. Meals will be delivered to each vehicle, please do not park.
Please NOTE each student will receive a breakfast and a lunch at the time of pick-up. A parent only needs to go through the line once. Each student will get two meals.
The NEW Times and Locations:
9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
- Beverly Hills Intermediate (11111 Beamer Rd., Houston, TX 77089)
- Queens Intermediate (14521 Queens Rd., Houston, TX 77017)
- South Houston Intermediate (900 College Ave., South Houston, TX 77587)
- Kendrick Middle School (3001 Watters Rd., Pasadena, TX 77504)
- Shaw Middle School (1200 East Houston, Pasadena, TX 77502)
11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
- Dobie High School (10220 Blackhawk Blvd., Houston, TX 77089)
- Sam Rayburn High School (2121 Cherrybrook Ln., Pasadena, TX 77502)
- Pasadena High School (206 South Shaver St., Pasadena, TX 77506)
- South Houston High School (3820 Shaver St., South Houston, TX 77587)
- Pasadena Memorial High School (4410 Crenshaw Rd., Pasadena, TX 77504)
There is no cost for these meals, and the program is open to all Pasadena ISD students and any child under the age of 18.
We wish to thank our Child Nutrition Department for planning and offering these meals for our students.
Harris County Department of Education (HCDE)
In addition to Pasadena ISD the Harris County Department of Education is stepping up and filling in the gaps that the school districts aren’t meeting. On Friday March 20, they had a meeting where they passed a resolution that was above and beyond what they were required to do. The department is able to spend the monies available in the Unassigned Fund Balance. According to the 2018-2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report the Unassigned Fund Balance is as follows:
- Fund Balances and Net Position (continued) Unassigned Fund Balance – the component of the spendable fund balance which may be spent for any legal purpose. This portion of the total fund balance in the general fund is available to finance operating expenditures and totals to $20,930,182 which is 44 percent of the fiscal year 2019 general fund annual budget expenditures and other sources (uses). The Department maintains an unassigned fund balance equal to a minimum of two months of operational costs. This amount is within the adopted board policy CE (Local).
A couple of the important items included in the resolution that passed deal with their employees and feeding those in need. First, they are continuing to pay employees during the closure, and employees that were required to work during the first week of the closure are being given either time and a half (non-exempt employees) or comp time (exempt employees) for any work performed the first week of the outage.
The second item is they approved providing meals for the Head Start and Early Head Start families they serve. Not just the students, but the entire family. Providing food for the entire family is important since Head Start and Early Head Start has an income requirement for eligibility. HCDE is feeding the poor in this time of crisis.
The food distribution is only applicable to the Head Start families served by HCDE, not all Head Start recipients. The release schedule care package contents they provided are seen in the image below, but they note that they’ve had food delivery issues and are trying to find a new start date secondary to having the food delivered to them. Also, with the lock down (or whatever you want to call it) in place for the county they are no longer looking for public volunteers to help with food boxing and distributing.
The resolution passed was for four weeks, which will take the program through the current closure, with the food provision estimated cost running $237,199.24, or 1.13 percent of the unassigned fund balance. The vote was unanimous, but board member Don Sumners voiced concern regarding the duration of the program, so it will be worth watching what happens if the school closures drag on. When new information regarding the food distribution becomes available this article will be updated.
Update: Harris County Department of Education sent in the following statement about distribution:
First food distribution is tomorrow (Friday March 27) at JD Walker Head Start for families attending that center as well as Baytown and Barrett Station HS Centers as well as John G Jones and Lets Learn Child Care partnership sites. Families have been contacted by HCDE. Future distribution dates are TBD as we work with the food suppliers to get more food based on high demand.