Long after the final bell rings at HISD's Port Houston Elementary, students line up for another meal.
Dinner is ready, and its free, served here and at 31 additional schools Monday through Friday for students and their siblings as long as they're younger than 18 years.
Sandra Espinoza waited as her son ate his Friday night meal: a corn dog, mash potatoes, and sliced peaches. Espinoza is a single mom. Up by 6am, she and her son Daniel get to school by 7am, then put in a full day of work. She is an employee. He is a second grader.
The new dinner program gives her both a financial break and a little extra mommy time.
"It's kind of great because since I'm here all day for work, I don't have to worry about (feeding him). We live in a low income neighborhood, most of our families are happy because they give them a snack and dinner and we don't have to worry about anything when we get home."
H-I-S-D is now feeding an average of 3000 children dinner at the participating campuses on a daily basis. The schools that offer the free dinner program are also required to offer after-school activities and service at-risk populations.
The district's food services department receives federal reimbursements for the meals served.
"The misconception is that this is funding that could also fund text books and teachers and that's not the case," said Brian Giles, senior administrator. "This funding comes from the department of agriculture so it specifically geared toward feeding students who may not get healthy meals otherwise."
The program is expected to expand to an additional 18 schools next fall.
Free dinner meals are currently offered at the following campuses:
Sam Houston High
Port Houston Elem.
The Rusk School
Windsor Village Elem.