In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Oveta Culp Hobby Elementary is giving out free Grab & Go Meals to Killeen Independent School District students, ages 0-18.

KISD is providing breakfast and lunch for students at 12 different school sites, but Oveta Culp Hobby Elementary is the only available site on Fort Hood. Breakfast is from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and lunch is from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

“We are here indefinitely,” Luz Morales, assistant cafeteria manager and U.S. Army veteran, said. “We are just going week by week right now.”

KISD schools have been closed since the start of spring break, and many military families who have chosen to self-quarantine are now isolated on the installation.

“Since we are in social isolation, we can’t really go anywhere, so providing children an opportunity to have free breakfast and lunch — that’s a big economic help. They only have to worry about one meal,” Carmen Olivarez, cafeteria manager, said. “We are trying to make sure no child on post goes hungry.”

Although, KISD students are scheduled to return to school April 6, the staff are preparing for a possible change.

“As long as the campus is closed, we will continue,” Morales said about the elementary school’s response plan. “It’s to ensure that all of our children are getting two meals a day.”

Morales, who is married to a retired U.S. Army veteran and has four adult children, said she misses her elementary students.

“Just being able to see the kids, and knowing that they are getting something to eat and that we are responsible for that,” Morales said. “That we helped them during this time of crisis.”

Olivarez said approximately 700 students are enrolled at Oveta Culp Hobby Elementary, but the meals are for any and all KISD students on the installation.

“A lot of the kids that we see are from our school, but it’s not just for our school — it’s the whole post,” Olivarez said. “All the kids that are on post come here.”

During the pandemic, the Fort Hood community has been encouraged to stay home if they are feeling sick, practice social distancing and only leave their house out of necessity.

“We are limiting our interactions with the kids,” Olivarez said. “We are keeping our distance from parents and families in cars.”

The KISD response effort began March 17, and within the first 72 hours, Oveta Culp Hobby Elementary provided over 850 meals to students on Fort Hood.

“They appreciate it,” Morales said about the KISD parents. “A lot of them have said, ‘We appreciate what you’re doing. You guys are awesome,’ just different things.”

The number of meals given out each day has steadily increased and Olivarez said it is thanks to word-of-mouth.

“We are trying to do as much as we can,” Olivarez said. “Please tell your friends. If someone needs a meal, we are here for them, so we’ll alleviate some of that financial burden on them.”

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