Mayor's Office Press Release
As Thanksgiving Day Approaches, Mayor Turner Focuses on Addressing Food Insecurities in Houston
November 23, 2020 -- The Houston Health Department estimates that one in four children under 18 years of age in Houston/Harris County is food insecure. These children are not only hungry, they don’t receive proper nutrition; that means they’re also at higher risk for serious negative impacts on their growth and development. Food-insecure children are more frequently hospitalized, have a higher risk of developing chronic conditions, and experience more academic, behavioral, and social problems.
Mayor Turner is facing that daunting challenge with a sense of urgency.
This Thanksgiving, he is partnering with nonprofit organizations and houses of worship to distribute food and masks leading up to Thanksgiving Day. Meeting the needs of people in this community is the mayor’s number one priority.
That’s why instead of a Thanksgiving Day parade this year, Mayor Turner hosted a mass food distribution at NRG Park November 21 to meet the needs of families with children facing food insecurities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The City of Houston partnered with title sponsor H.E.B., the Houston Food Bank, the Houston Livestock Show, Rodeo, and an army of volunteers. Vehicles lined up hours before the 8 a.m. distribution start time for an opportunity to receive a box of food. As each car pulled up in one of six lanes, Mayor Turner and volunteers placed a box containing a turkey or ham, pies, canned goods, and milk in their vehicle. The Mayor’s Health Equity Response (H.E.R.) Task Force provided face masks and sanitizer.
“This event is more emotional,” said Mayor Turner, “because instead of the floats, it’s a parade of cars based on people’s needs. My goal is to help people keep food on the table and prevent COVID-19 from spreading in their households, which could sicken our elderly and other vulnerable and high-risk loved ones.”
It was one of several events to assist individuals who may have lost jobs, faced furloughs and other challenges ahead of the holidays. Mayor Turner also participated in food distributions recently hosted by U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, State Senator Borris Miles, the Original Burns BBQ in Acres Home and the United Memorial Medical Center.
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On Monday, Nov. 23, Mayor Turner supported food distributions at God’s Grace Community Church and a turkey and ham giveaway sponsored by the Jacob Blake Foundation, the Isaiah Thomas Foundation, and the Steve Francis Foundation at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church.
On the day before Thanksgiving, Mayor Turner co-hosted a free COVID-19 testing and turkey giveaway for families in Sunnyside. The Cactus Jack Foundation, which was recently launched by Grammy nominated Houston artist Travis Scott, served as a co-sponsor.
Food insecurity is a primary reason the HER Task Force launched this month the Houston Eats Restaurant Support (H.E.R.S.) Program, which funds free meals prepared by locally-owned, restaurants and catering companies and provided to Houstonians living in economically distressed ZIP codes. The program launched with 12 small food business and $2.2 million in CARES Act Funding with a goal of distributing 20,000 meals each week. The Mayor’s Task Force partnered on the relief program with Lemond Kitchen, a local catering company serving as the project administrator to increase the program’s capacity to address hunger needs in Houston with an additional $800,000 in federal funds. Lemond Kitchen eventually will lead 25 local restaurants and catering companies in the production and delivery of up to 30,000 meals per week through the end of the year.
To qualify to be part of the program, both restaurants and meal recipients need to be in one of 31 ZIP codes, including the City’s Complete Communities and other neighborhoods identified by the H.E.R. Task Force this Spring based on C.D.C. social vulnerability data. These ZIP codes include:
77003, 77004, 77009, 77011, 77012, 77016, 77020, 77021, 77022, 77026, 77028, 77029, 77033, 77036, 77040, 77045, 77051, 77053, 77060, 77071, 77072, 77074, 77076, 77078, 77081, 77087, 77088, 77091, 77093, 77099, and 77489.
Anyone interested in more information can visit http://www.lemondkitchen.com/hers-program.
“No one should go hungry in our city,” said Mayor Turner. “This program is a win for all concerned, helping our local restaurants, ensuring their employees have work and, most importantly, providing meals for our fellow Houstonians in need.”
As the City focuses on addressing food insecurities during the holiday, remember that COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are increasing in our city. Mayor Turner encourages everyone to limit in-person holiday gatherings to household members to slow the spread of COVID-19.
And remember to: Mask up, social distance, wash hands, and get tested to crush COVID-19.
Find a nearby free, fast, safe testing site at HoustonEmergency.org/COVID19.