News Roundup: Over 200,000 Texas Children Ate Free Dinners At Texas Schools Last Year

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelAugust 17, 2018 1:09 pm

New data shows that more than 200,000 Texas students participated in a program during the last school year that provided them with free dinners.

Called the Afterschool Meal Program, it allows high-poverty schools that participate in afterschool enrichment programs, like sports or band, to serve full meals to students.

Rachel Cooper is a senior policy analyst with the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a progressive Austin-based think tank. She says the program served about 215,000 kids daily last year “but, it’s still a fraction of all the kids who are eligible – because roughly 2.5 million children eat free or reduced-price lunches every day.”

Cooper adds that there’s a couple of reasons the program isn’t more widespread, including some schools not knowing it’s out there.

“Unfortunately there are a lot of districts that don’t have afterschool programming available for their kids because of budget cuts and other things,” Cooper says. “So they have to have afterschool programming – which we hope every school could have – and then on top of that they could offer at-school meals.”

Cooper adds that schools can join the program at any point in the school year. Schools apply with the Texas Department of Agriculture and the meals are paid for with federal money.

Chemical plants and oil refineries spewed millions of pounds of toxic chemicals into the air after hurricane Harvey struck Texas about a year ago. But, as KUT’s Mose Buchele reports, some parts of the state may have done a better job than others in controlling those emissions.

When some gas stations in Central Texas ran low on fuel after Harvey, that was partially due to refineries in Corpus Christi that shut down in preparation for the storm. That was the right call, according to the Environmental Integrity Project.

A new report looks at Harvey-related pollution releases and finds that the well-coordinated closures in Corpus helped that town avoid a situation like what happened in Houston – where plants didn’t shut down until the storm was upon them.

“Many of those were emergency shutdowns and that always comes with more pollution,” says Ilan Levin, director of the Environmental Integrity Project in Texas.

In other cases, facilities in and around Houston were damaged or even destroyed causing greater harm to the environment and public health. The report comes as the EPA begins its own investigation into the state and federal monitoring of air pollution during and after Hurricane Harvey. 

Texas-born fashion designer Brandon Maxwell is known for his work with Lady Gaga and as a recent favorite of the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle. And while supermodels like Gigi Hadid and Joan Smalls have appeared in his runway shows and lookbooks, Maxwell turned to someone closer to home for his 2018 fall campaign: his grandmother.

He talked with her in a short film for the campaign.

Brandon Maxwell FW 2018 Campaign from Brandon Maxwell on Vimeo.

Photos for the campaign were shot in Longview, Texas. That’s where Maxwell is from, and where his grandmother spent part of her career working as a buyer a local boutique.