Feeding the Future


Zoey McCarty, Staff Writer

Cypress Fairbanks ISD has over 116,000 students spread in 91 campuses over 186 square miles. It is a process to feed so many people all across the district in a single day.


Darin Crawford has served as the Director of Nutrition Services Cy Fair for the last seven years since 2012 and has spent over 15 years in the hotel industry. The Woods Spillane Warehouse is one of four warehouses in CFISD to provide food to the students.


In order to get so much food across such a vast district, the food warehouse has to start its morning extremely early.


“Cy Fair has four warehouses and 20 trucks are on the road at two in the morning,” Crawford said.


In Cy Fair, the district will distribute about 160,000 meals a day in 2019, but it’s not just lunch; the district also feeds breakfast to the majority of its students.


“[We feed] 32,000 for breakfast and the rest is lunch about 85,000,” Crawford said.


CFISD Nutrition Services lunch program is funded from the federal government to help provide food to the students with proper nutrition.


“Our budget is 59 million in revenue that is 43 million from government programs and 16 million goes to sales and no local tax revenues,” Crawford said.


Nutrition services even arranged to serve dinner for students during tutorials, sports, clubs and other after school programs.


“We do after school snacks on our campuses with partnership with Club Rewind,” Crawford said.


The school lunch program was started in the 1940s in the United States to provide low-cost meals to students in public and nonprofit schools in the United States, and was also a way to prop up prices of food by farm surpluses after the Great Depression.


“In 1946 Congress passed Richard B. Russel School Lunch Act and in 1966 President Kennedy signed a new bill that’s allowed school breakfast,” Crawford said.


After seeing his players not getting the proper nutrition to help build muscle and strength on the field Cypress Lakes Head Football Coach Ronald Patton decided to find a solution. By doing this he started a new trend that helps not only his players,  but helps many others in the process.


“I believe not only my players [benefit], but all students have benefited. The truth is we have kids that are willing to stay after school to get help in classes they were struggling in, knowing they’ll be fed afterwards,” Patton said.


Getting the supper program started wasn’t an easy process to go through. Patton has a vision to be able to provide nutrition and health food to many students in Cypress Lakes and eventually to other schools in the district.


“I spent about a month calling around getting information to gathered on how to educate and assist students in the community on nutrition. I then presented to Darin Crawford and he liked it, but felt uncertain because nothing like this ever been before in CFISD,” Patton said.


After gathering information to convince the district Coach Patton got the support he needed and the district created the supper program created and turned out to be a success not just at Cy Lakes, but all over the district.


“Once Ms. Harty confirmed the APs were on board, with supervision from Gladys, our food service manager confirmed workers were willing to stay and prepare meals. Darin let us roll it out. It’s been awesome from day one,” Patton said.


To find foods that everyone likes is very difficult give to fact that CFISD is a diverse Community. Different cultures mixed together can make meals hard to create, but the Nutrition Services finds a solution to the problem.


“January to February food tasting at The Berry Center with venders a list of breakfast, lunch, and snacks sample. Get feedback from that,” Crawford said.


Meal planning is important because the district is required to meet some students’ dietary

restrictions which are specific requirements based on health and needs.


“Some students require special diets. I receive diet modification from their physician with medical needs,” CFISD Dietitian Katherine Barckholtz said.


From the determination and passion for the students in CFISD the Nutrition Services department and many people helped developed the school lunch program. To be able to provide meals and know that some students wouldn’t go home on an empty stomach.


“I think this is an opportunity for students who to be able to get food at school and knowing that they would go home with a good meal,” Barckholtz said.


Photo by Aaron Rodriguez