While Austin ISD campuses are closed due to COVID-19 precautions, our food services team remains committed to ensuring students have access to nutritious food. For children under the age of 19, as well as their parents and caregivers, we are:
- operating 34 kitchens to serve meals at more than 70 locations
- offering curbside pick-up for meals at more than 16 sites and
- delivering meals at more than 50 bus stops throughout Austin
The curbside and bus stop delivery sites cover 67 attendance zones. In compliance with the Texas Department of Agriculture, AISD selected sites where 50 percent or more of the students receive meal benefits.
We would like to continue serving and delivering meals as long as possible. As you may have seen, Houston ISD discontinued its food distribution this week. Link.
To ensure our food and delivery services are sustainable–while protecting the health and safety of our teams–we are unable to add locations at this time. This is due to many factors, including:
- “Work safe” compliance. To comply with safety precautions, including the city's "stay home" and "work safe" order to maintain a six-foot distance among team members, only 10 or less people are able to work in a kitchen.
- Staffing shortages. It is increasingly difficult to consistently fill the schedule to fulfill existing commitments and operations. Our teams have been working around the clock since the week before spring break. And, team members have their own health and safety concerns.
- Supply shortages. Our vendors are facing similar staffing issues. They also are experiencing supply issues, including delays and shortages, which prevent them from increasing deliveries to additional campuses.
- Food preparation and storage. Kitchens are producing about three times as many meals than they do regularly–and the volume is increasing every day. We have limited storage for both the food preparation supplies, as well as the individually packaged meals for delivery and distribution.
- Meal Availability. Due to physical limitations of how many meals can be produced each day based on existing staffing, supplies and storage, there will be a finite number of meals available at each site. Today, we served about 65,000 meals.
Evaluating delivery routes. Although our food services team is at capacity, we are working with community partners to evaluate and modify bus routes to serve the highest number of students (e.g. increasing deliveries to high-density neighborhoods such as apartment complexes)—while protecting the health and safety of our teams and families.
For information about curbside and bus stop meal deliveries, including sites, please visit the AISD website at www.austinisd.org/coronavirus/meals.
Thank you for all you do for our students and school communities every day and throughout the COVID-19 health crisis. And, thank you for working with us to ensure students receive meals—understanding the restraints and realities of delivering and sustaining food services during this unprecedented time.
In health, community and solidarity,