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Image of Harris County Department of Education Superintendent James Colbert and Head Start staff distribute books and boxes with food items to families of students served by HCDE at the JD Walker Center, March 27, 2020.

‘Because We Care’ Packages Being Distributed to HCDE Head Start Families

Families Receive Care Packages March 27 at J.D. Walker Head View photos from packaging and distribution events. Care packages for Harris County Department of Education Head Start families were assembled and distributed by HCDE staff March 27. The program called “Because We Care” provides food items meeting healthy food guidelines selected by nutrition staff at HCDE Head Start during the COVID-19, stay-at-home order. Care packages were delivered to Head Start families from three area centers and two child care facilities: Barrett Station, J.D. Walker and Baytown Head Start centers, as well as Early Head Start child care partners John G Jones and Let’s Learn. Staples included items such as oatmeal, canned foods and peanut butter. Baby food is included in the infant/toddler care package. Baytown Head Start parent Isabel Rodriguez showed up with her husband and two children. Eduardo, 4,  clutched one of two books he received called “What We Will Build.” “The food is very helpful right now with everything going on,” Rodriguez said. “Eduardo misses his school, but right now I’m his teacher.” Kadeija Merrill, mother of three, says she has a new respect for teachers as she struggles to keep them occupied and learning. Her 4-year old is full of questions. “I miss the teachers more than my kids do,” she said. The HCDE Board approved the $238,000 food program through an emergency board meeting, appropriating the funding from general HCDE funds to accommodate approximately 1,230 families. Food was purchased through Choice Partners, HCDE’s purchasing cooperative which supplies one million meals for Harris County students yearly. Distribution assistance was provided by Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia’s office. HCDE Superintendent James Colbert Jr. volunteered alongside HCDE staff and thanked the HCDE Board for recognizing and supplying basic family needs during the coronavirus. “These families will get staples which are hard to find in the grocery stores,” said Colbert. “We continue to find ways and the means to help our students’ families.” Head Start Senior Director Venetia Peacock emphasized her committment to keeping Head Start families healthy. “As families are vulnerable, this is one of the ways that we reach out and help,” said HCDE Head Start Senior Director Venetia Peacock. “We are HCDE strong, and we all care about our students and their families.” More care boxes will be assembled as food shipments arrive through the HCDE co-op Choice Partners. Geographic distribution will follow, and center directors and staff will notify HCDE Head Start families about pick-up dates. HCDE Head Start serves families of children ages six weeks to age 5 with 15 Head Start centers located in north to northeast Harris County. Income-eligible families and children with disabilities gain free Head Start services to help equip children with academic and social skills for school readiness. Families receive support services in the school readiness program through community partners. For more information about Head Start, visit http://www.hcde-texas.org/Head-Start. About Harris County Department of Education: HCDE is a unique, educational hybrid serving school districts, governmental agencies, nonprofits and the public in the third-largest county in the U.S. HCDE annually serves a quarter-million students and educators through schools for students with profound special needs; the largest adult education program in Texas; Head Start early childhood education; school-based therapy services; and afterschool programs. Educator professional development and certification, school safety, records management, and a purchasing cooperative are also provided. #SeeTheImpact at http://www.hcde-texas.org.   Source: HCDE