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No Kid Hungry Texas announced its first Rural School District Cohort this week, a partnership with the Texas Rural Education Association to address childhood hunger in rural communities.
Cotulla ISD has been listed as the recipient of a portion of the grant.
Five school districts across the state have been chosen to participate in the year-long program, “designed to support peer-to-peer collaboration and innovation around the unique challenges and opportunities associated with feeding students in rural school districts,” the organization reported in a prepared statement. No Kid Hungry Texas awarded a $30,000 grant to each school district to expand and improve child nutrition programs.
The cohort will bring together the child nutrition director from each district to share best practices and then adapt them locally with their own team, the statement indicated.
“The nutrition programs proven to effectively feed hungry kids can still work in rural communities, but they often must operate differently to account for the geographic landscape and the unique challenges rural families are dealing with,” said No Kid Hungry Texas Director Stacie Sanchez Hare. “This collaboration is an investment in sharing and developing solutions to those challenges so that kids in the most remote parts of our great state can still count on nutritious food.”
At Cotulla ISD, Superintendent Dr. Jack Seals said this week that the administration has received its $30,000 grant and has immediately channeled the funds to its foodservice program, where curbside meals are delivered daily to all those under age 18 who need them. Supt. Seals said the food distribution program was designed to cater to the many students who are taking their education at home but still require school meals.
“Creating and running the curbside foodservice program was critical, because we need to keep providing meals to all the children, even if they are not on campus all day,” the superintendent said. “This resulted in elevated expenses, and we are pleased that we can use this grant to help pay for that program.
“We have had to adjust to the demands imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, and those adjustments have involved increased operating costs in some areas,” the superintendent said. “Our priority has been providing for all of the children’s needs, despite the challenges.”
“The Texas Rural Education Association is excited to partner with No Kid Hungry Texas in the first of its kind, Rural School District Cohort,” said Bill Tarleton, Executive Director of Texas Rural Education Association. “TREA serves over four hundred school districts in Texas, and we provide numerous benefits and services to our membership. We are honored to be able to work with No Kid Hungry to assist our membership in learning about childhood hunger and provide them with valuable resources to combat it,”
Listed with Cotulla as selected to participate in the cohort are school districts in Mexia, Mount Pleasant, Navasota and Sinton.
“Even prior to the coronavirus pandemic, childhood hunger was a huge problem in many rural parts of the country,” Tarleton reported this week. “Eighty-four percent of US counties with the highest rate of childhood hunger are rural, according to the USDA. Now that much of rural America has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic from a health and economic perspective, we expect that disparity has grown.”
TREA is a statewide organization with a formal affiliation with the National Rural Education Association. TREA reports that it promotes quality educational opportunities and experiences for all children from rural public schools which will enable them to live and compete in a global society.