AISD Food Service Has Been Feeding Local Kids, Pandemic Be Damned

A free meal pickup at LBJ Early College School in March (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Perhaps the most exemplary of "it takes a village" scenarios in 2020 has been fulfilling the need for school meals during the ongoing global pandemic. Breakfast and lunch are available during normal education calendars, but never before has the need to feed students been greater, with tens of thousands of families furloughed and laid off, many parents working from home, and all children at home seven days a week. Facing the unprecedented and sudden shuttering of local schools at the beginning of the pandemic, and then numerous pivots throughout the semester and summer break, Austin ISD Food Service expanded their work to include not only students, but all youth under 19, plus caregivers. Daily pickup lines were organized at schools across the city, and as the year and the crisis were perpetuated, so were the nutrition teams' tremendous efforts. In this second half of the year, meal distribution shifted to seven-day packs full of scratch-prepared produce and proteins, filling healthy foods, and free farm produce boxes. Partnerships with local restaurants and nonprofits helped boost the flavor and amp up volume, while social media shares continue to inspire creative uses for box components. As some students transition to in-person classes while many more remain in virtual school, the cafeteria crews are currently tasked with double-duty food prep to keep bellies full and minds sharp. As winter approaches with no definitive end to pandemic trials in sight, we are grateful for the continuing hard work of every member of the kitchen staff, distribution teams, and organizers.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Jessi Cape
The Long Game
True-life story of Mexican-American teens who make a run at the 1957 state golf championship

April 12, 2024

SXSW Panel Discusses Promoting DEI in the Workplace
SXSW Panel Discusses Promoting DEI in the Workplace
In challenging times, supporting diversity is more critical than ever

March 14, 2024


AISD Food Services, Austin Independent School District, 20 in 2020, coronavirus pandemic

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle