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How Houston Independent School District is working with the Houston Food Bank to feed the city’s families during coronavirus

Betti Wiggins is implementing lessons learned during Hurricane Harvey to build community bonds to support the city

Two months ago, I saw Betti Wiggins, officer of the office of nutrition services for the Houston Independent School District (ISD), at the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) SNIC conference in Palm Springs, Calif. Betti and I actually spent the three-hour flight from Houston to Palm Spring sitting next to each other.

For those who know Betti, you know she’s not afraid to speak her mind—she tells you exactly what she’s thinking and she’s not afraid to challenge others to be better or do better.

For that, I’ve always had a fondness for Betti, since first meeting her at a different SNA conference where, upon finding out who I worked for, she told me that she had my next great story. And she wasn’t wrong. Betti was doing amazing work in Detroit Public Schools working with the community to rebuild around the school nutrition programs and its garden project.

When Betti moved to Houston ISD, I followed with great anticipation. I grew up in Houston; thought not in Houston ISD, it was still the city that I called home, and I was excited to see what she could do for the community.

And then Hurricane Harvey hit and decimated the city. Betti, being Betti, immediately took action. Even though she had never been through a hurricane, Betti pulled her staff together and found a path forward to feeding the city.

So when coronavirus hit, I knew I wanted to find out how Betti and Houston ISD were tackling the pandemic head-on. And true to form, Betti is working hand in hand with the Houston Food Bank to feed families, something she’s incredibly passionate about but she knows that the city needs more than just food for students.

The video below shares what Houston ISD is doing and how it is working with the Houston Food Back and the Texas Department of Agriculture to best utilize all the food the district has. While the video gets spotty at time—oh, the joys of working from home—the message, sa Betti says it best, is clear: “We’re not just little old lunch ladies anymore.”

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