Austin and Del Valle parents and caregivers can soon get food from school districts

Education

AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Thursday, Austin City Council approved a budget amendment and resolution that’ll allocate up to $2.2 million for caregiver meals — meaning the funding will help local school districts distribute meals to parents and guardians.

The Del Valle Independent School District officials told KXAN they provide about 9,200 meals a day to students. They said the federal reimbursement program that helps them pay for the meals specifically says the food has to be for students, not adults.

“Evidenced by the thousands of students and families who show up for our meal deliveries, the need to provide meals to our caregivers exists,” said Jonathan Harris, Chief Communications Officer of Del Valle ISD.

According to the resolution, DVISD can feed about 4,000 family members a day with the funding it’s receiving from the city.

Austin ISD said it can distribute 6,000 adult meals a day with its portion of the funding.

“We are proud to be a part of such a supportive community who shares the same values. Partnering with the City of Austin to serve caregiver meals prepared by local restaurants helps to provide additional food security for our families during these challenging times,” said Anneliese Tanner, Austin ISD Executive Director of Food Service and Warehouse Operations.

Food insecurity issues exacerbated by the pandemic

“This pandemic has really shed the light, you know, and made it more obvious about the inequities, the lack of access to healthy food,” said Monica Guzmán, Policy Director at Go Austin Vamos Austin.

She said the council action was “definitely needed because parents are hurting.”

She told KXAN some parents are having to split food their children receive from school districts or save every little bit to make it last longer.

“The parents are saving the milk that come with the meals for breakfast the next day for the kids,” Guzmán explained.

The Central Texas Food Bank has been doing emergency food distributions since the pandemic began. They so far, they’ve helped more than 10,000 families so far at special food distribution events.

Thursday, more than 1,600 families came to Del Valle High School to receive food.

Guzmán said, “I was a single parent for most of my son’s childhood. I know what they’re going through. I had my own experience of deciding what bill am I not going to pay to make sure that my electricity is still on or that my rent is paid or that I can buy groceries.”

The Central Texas Food Bank says as the need grows, they’re also experiencing difficulties getting the food they need.

They’re no longer receiving large donations from retailers like they normally would, so they’re having to buy more food.

Del Valle ISD said as of April 30, it provided 329,192 meals to students. With the city funding it’s getting, the resolution said DVISD can distribute about 4,000 meals a day to parents or family members.

According to the resolution, Austin ISD can help about 6,000 caregivers a day with its funding.

City officials said the resolution directs the city manager to see what other school districts might need the city’s help.

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