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A Houston teacher's nonprofit feeds students, families while supporting local food trucks

Feed the Frontline Houston formed to support local restaurants while feeding healthcare workers. But the need for meals is changing as the pandemic continues.

HOUSTON — When KHOU 11 first shared Sarah Watson's story, the special education teacher for Yes Prep Public Schools was just one week into her new organization. She helped to create Feeding the Frontline HTX.

The caption for the organization's very first Instagram post on March 22 included a description of its mission:

What are we aiming to do? You donate money to us, we buy large food orders from local restaurants, and deliver the food to hospital workers in the Houston area. Our goal is to support local businesses, and boost morale of health workers on the frontline of providing health services to our community.

Over the next three months, donations covered more than 55,000 meals delivered to a healthcare workers in the Texas Medical Center.

Deliveries to area hospitals stopped at the of June, when Feed The Frontline Houston (the nonprofit changed its name shortly after its creation) changed its focus.

"I work at a school where 90 percent of our students rely on free and reduced lunch, and while districts are doing an amazing job of trying to plug in and give those meals, I was online teaching, and I was like, yes let’s talk about Algebra," Watson said. "But also, tell me about what home is like right now."

She said an overwhelming amount of students told her meals are inconsistent because their parents, who were struggling before the pandemic, had lost their jobs or had their work hours drastically reduced.

"I think it has, sort of, provided a new definition of what it means to be on the front line," said Watson of the families now battling major economic challenges.

RELATED: Feed The Front Line: New organization helps restaurants, feeds healthcare workers with donations

Feed the Frontline Houston is now using donations to hire food trucks to cook and box 350 meals at a time. The one entree option is culturally relevant to the communities where the food is served.

"We’ve had so many families that are thankful for a hot, ready to go, meal," said Watson of the meal giveaways that began in mid-May. The organization fed families and healthcare workers for about six weeks, before halting the hospital deliveries.

Community meal giveaways are planned for the Gulfton and North Houston communities.

"As teacher who’s going back to work, I don’t know if I’ll be able to continue doing this full time. So right now we’re set to run through the end of July to early August," she said.

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