Below are the many ways HISD ensures that its students get proper nourishment throughout the school day and beyond.
Breakfast in the classroom
Breakfast is important to fuel the minds and bodies of children, so they are ready to learn. HISD serves breakfast directly to the classrooms in most elementary and middle schools. Students receive a variety of nutritious and tasty foods delivered to the classroom door. Students eat at their desks during morning announcements. Serving breakfast after the school day begins assures that students have an opportunity to eat a healthy breakfast. Research shows that students that eat breakfast do better in math and reading and are more focused in the classroom.
Hexser T. Holliday Food Services Production Center
Completed in 2009, this 200,000+ square-foot facility in northeast Houston allows the district to maintain strict quality controls on the approximately 50 million meals it produces annually for students. The production facility allows for more scratch cooking, control of ingredients, consistency and inventory management.
Nutritional Standards for School Meals
The Health Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 required schools to implement nutrition standards for school breakfast, lunch and a la carte foods. All meals are planned to meet the caloric needs of students in different age/grade groups. Meals are lower in sodium, saturated fat, trans-fat free and include whole grain rich products. In addition, meals include a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables and milk that is fat-free or low fat.
School Café App
School Café is a web-based and mobile app that enables parents to see school menus, nutrition information and food allergens. The app also allows parents to prepay for their children’s a la carte food purchases using a credit card, view account balances, student purchase history and manage their children’s choices online. The app is available in the Apple App store and Google Play at https://www.schoolcafe.com/
Many HISD schools serve free dinner. Any child aged 1 – 18 can eat dinner free at participating schools.For a list of schools and serving times, visit https://www.houstonisd.org/Page/154802.
Free Summer Meals Program
From the end of the school year through early July, the district runs the Free Summer Meals Program, through which students up to age 18 can obtain free breakfast and lunch at participating HISD campuses. Children can eat free at any school site and do not need to be registered or attending summer school to participate. Parents can call 2-1-1 to find a site or visit www.summerfood.org to access an interactive map of sites around Houston.
Smart Snacks in Schools
To help students make healthy snack choices, all food sold in schools must meet nutrition standards. The standards include restrictions on calories, sodium, fat, sugar and serving sizes for beverages. More information on the Smart Snacks in Schools standards can be obtained at https://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/tools-schools-focusing-smart-snacks
Food Literacy and Food Inclusion
Houston ISD is committed to teaching food literacy and food inclusion through a nutrition-focused curriculum. Food literacy starts with understanding where food comes from. It then expands to understanding relationships with food. This begins at a personal level; how different foods can be beneficial to the body and how some foods do not have any benefits for the body. This includes an openness to trying new foods and seeking out exposure to new foods. The relationship with food expands to cultural preference with foods, understanding both personal culture and others’ cultures and how that impacts food choice and why preferences vary between cultures. Expanding even further, food literacy includes the relationship with food/agriculture on a global, environmental, and economical scale. Food inclusion promotes a pattern of healthy choices that are flexible enough to fit into many cultural preferences and promote balance, variety and moderation. Overall, this means making delicious choices that benefit your body. The message of health should promote a positive relationship with food, avoiding messaging that use fear instead of facts. Nutrition Services aims to educate our students in the classroom, in the garden and in the cafeteria.