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Caregiver meals at Austin-area schools

Posted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 4:19 pm
by Kathie Tovo
Dear Colleagues,

I want to alert you to a resolution and budget amendment you will find on our Council addendum for the May 7, 2020, meeting. The resolution and companion budget amendment propose an allocation of currently unencumbered CARES Act funds for the purposes of providing caregiver meals at school distribution meal sites in the Austin area.

My office has worked in close coordination with the Social Services Cabinet, Austin ISD, and other community advocates to bring forward this proposal for Council consideration. I am confident that this approach is an effective strategy to leverage our public dollars to help families access food at existing community hubs during this unprecedented crisis. I would like to thank my co-sponsors: Council Member Kitchen, Council Member Harper-Madison, Council Member Casar, and Mayor Adler for their support.

The original conception for the resolution was to allocate funds for Austin ISD to resume caregiver meals and to continue engaging other ISDs to gauge their interest in a similar partnership. Per conversations at the Social Services Cabinet, this engagement with other ISDs was currently underway and at the time of drafting, we had not received concrete responses from other ISDs.
After I had secured co-sponsors, Del Valle ISD responded to the City’s survey and expressed an interest in possibly serving caregiver meals. I attempted to bifurcate the Austin ISD and Del Valle VISD budget allocations separately so I could invite the Council Members who represent Del Valle VISD to co-sponsor this allocation.

Unfortunately, I was advised of sub-quorum issues with this approach. Due to the urgent issues our families are facing, especially regarding food access, I felt uncomfortable waiting for staff to return to Council with a possible allocation for Del Valle ISD at the next meeting on May 21. Currently, the budget amendment on the agenda would allocate funding for caregiver meals at both Austin ISD and Del Valle ISD in the event that Council approves that plan.

I want to use this forum to acknowledge the consistent advocacy of my colleagues, Mayor Pro Tem Garza and Council Member Renteria, on behalf of Del Valle ISD and increased food access issues more generally and to articulate my deep desire to have included them in this work if quorum rules would have allowed. Please let me know if either of you would like me to use a different approach for Del Valle ISD – for example, if you would like to bring forward a separate budget amendment modeled after this one with different co-sponsors, I could amend mine so that they don’t overlap. Another alternative is that you may be able to add yourselves in a public meeting as official co-sponsors (which is something we have done on limited occasions).

To my other colleagues, please feel free to relay any questions about this proposal in this thread or in the Q&A. I look forward to discussing further on Tuesday.


Re: Caregiver meals at Austin-area schools

Posted: Fri May 01, 2020 8:35 am
by Jimmy Flannigan
This is a great idea and I'm looking forward to seeing this posted on the addendum today!

I checked with some contacts at RRISD and they said they had not been contacted. There are a couple of RRISD Title 1 schools in District 6, some on the Wilco side, which are often left out of otherwise great supportive programs for vulnerable students and families.

Excited to help shepherd this proposal through in the appropriate way.

Re: Caregiver meals at Austin-area schools

Posted: Fri May 01, 2020 12:37 pm
by Kathie Tovo
Council Member Flannigan,

Thank you for your enthusiasm for this work! I’m very eager to see the caregiver meals begin as soon as possible to help meet this critical need in the community.

Some background: Prior to the Social Services Cabinet meeting on Tuesday of this week, our city staff reached out to every ISD within the city limits. After seeing your post this a.m., we reconfirmed that city staff had indeed contacted Round Rock ISD’s Nutrition Services Director to gauge RRISD’s interest in this partnership, but as of yet has not received a response. If you have an additional contact to recommend, please post and we’ll forward it on to staff.

Considering other ISDs within this work was identified as a priority by our city staff and wholeheartedly supported by our Social Services Cabinet. Thus the resolution – which will post later today – already includes the following language:

The City Manager is directed to continue conversations with other Independent School Districts within the City of Austin limits to assess their interest and need for caregiver meal distribution to connect with businesses in need of economic support due to second-order effects of the COVID-19 emergency. The City Manager is directed to provide City Council with information about these conversations by May 13, 2020, and, if appropriate, to present Council with a proposed budget amendment for consideration. Should a budget amendment be approved by Council, the City Manager is directed to apply for reimbursement under the CARES Act, as applicable.

The City Manager is directed to discuss with Travis County the possibility of a similar partnership with school districts that fall outside of the City of Austin and within Travis County and to provide Council with a status update on this engagement.