Left to right: Pleasantville Elementary Principal, Gwendolyn Hunter; TDA Coordinator of Special Programs for Food and Nutrition, Jennifer Page; Nutrition Services Officer, Betti Wiggins; TDA Assistant Commissioner for Food and Nutrition, Angela Olige
The Texas Department of Agriculture Assistant Commissioner for Food and Nutrition Angela Olige recently stopped by two HISD schools as part of a post-Harvey recovery tour of Texas schools ravaged by the hurricane.
Pleasantville Elementary and Holland Middle Schools were part of Olige's 7 school district, 15 school tour. The assistant commissioner received a firsthand look at recovery efforts and some of the accommodations that have been made to continue feeding and teaching students.
Olige, escorted by Nutrition Services Officer Betti Wiggins, stopped first at Pleasantville Elementary. She spoke with Principal Gwendolyn Hunter and Robinson Elementary’s principal Paige Hohos. Robinson Elementary suffered extensive damage, requiring its students to be relocated to both Pleansantville and Holland campuses. The additional students essentially doubled each school's student populations.
Hunter, who was a victim of the hurricane herself and had to relocate, estimates that approximately half of the homes in the area surrounding the neighboring Pleasantville and Holland schools suffered some amount of damage from Harvey.
Olige noted how impressed she was with the way HISD has been able to relocate students from damaged campuses to other campuses to, as seamlessly as possible, continue classroom instruction. She also lauded the way Nutrition Services has been able to logistically provide additional school meals to the increased numbers of students at these campuses.
Throughout her tour, Olige had the opportunity to get a direct view of the difficulties recovering schools are having to address. “The biggest challenge I am seeing is schools being able to meet the needs of the community," she said. "Everyone has been really innovative and passionate about serving the community and just finding the ways to do that within the confines of the program.”
But, she was also encouraged by the positivity she is witnessing, as well. “The silver lining is watching the communities come together and seeing people passionate about serving children. Nutrition Services has been phenomenal. They are doing a phenomenal job with some huge challenges and they are doing it with a positive attitude.”