Some two dozen organizations assembled at the Houston Food Bank to outline a plan to feed children affected by the hurricane. Doctor Robert Sanborn is president and CEO of Children at Risk.
“We met a couple of days ago, Tuesday, about 40 childrens organizations, and we started talking about what are the needs? And one of the key things that came out is basic needs right now. There isn’t enough food. So, we’re having it here at the Food Bank, because we need people to donate food. We need people to understand that there are kids that aren’t getting what they need right now in regards to nutrition.”
Sanborn says as a community, it’s important that children, especially those living in poverty are fed.
“They’re not being fed right now, because most of their healthy meals come from the schools, from that school breakfast and that school lunch. That’s not happening now. We need to get their routine back to normal, get them back into the school.”
The Houston Food Bank had broken windows and flooded offices after Hurricane IKE blew over, but volunteers quickly came together to minimize any disruption. Brian Greene, Houston Food Bank President and CEO, says there are an estimated 83-thousand children in Houston who go hungry every day.
“After Hurricane IKE, the problem is their ranks have been joined by many, many more. Households that were otherwise doing fine, have now in many cases, had a week to week and a half with no paycheck — how are those kids going to get fed is the big question.”
Doctor Martha Salazar-Zamora, assistant superintendent for the HISD, says schools are slowly re-opening once power is restored.
“We currently have, out of approximately 300 schools, we have 202 that are open, and we are really waiting for electricity for the remaining schools to come online, and just to let the community know that the workers that we have, the counselors, the psychologists, the social workers, are there and ready and willing and able to assist them because of the storm.”
Betsy Schwartz, President and CEO of Mental Health America of Greater Houston says any semblance of normalcy will help the kids recover quicker.
“We know that children may internalize what they’re feeling and may not be as vocal as parents or teachers. It’s really important for parents or teachers, or other caregivers to notice any changes in behavior.”
Schwartz says mental health needs that are paid attention to early on have less of a chance of creating more severe problems later.
Pat Hernandez, KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.