HOUSTON – Nov. 16, 2018 – The school cafeteria inside Booker Elementary School overflowed with 390 excited parents, grandparents and family members lined up to eat Thanksgiving lunch with their students for the 11th annual Family Feast Day Nov. 16.
Family members celebrated throughout the entire school with full meals consisting of turkey, dressing, fruit, green beans, and much more. Principal Keisha Womack said the event gives families — many of whom traveled from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Portugal — the opportunity to kick off the beginning of the holiday season.
“It’s a family affair, “ she said. “It takes a village, so you’ll see that village come together and all of the people behind the scenes who makes it happen for the children.”
Every year during the celebration, families get to enjoy eating with their child while interacting in their school setting. Each attendee purchases a $5 ticket for a Thanksgiving lunch or dinner meal available to take home.
“Just getting a turkey dinner, think about it,” Womack said. “We’re 89 percent economically disadvantaged, so having that opportunity to come in and get dinner, now the whole family can take it home.”
Parent and PTA president Cynthia Villarreal says she enjoys sitting and eating each year with her two children. For Villarreal, one part of the event that touches her heart the most is knowing there are some students who do not have a parent or family member available to attend.
“I think it’s special for us parents who can come sit with them, but the way [the school] is doing it for kids who don’t have parents to come is good so those kids don’t feel bad,” she said.
Womack agrees and says her staff members come together as one team to make sure every student has someone to eat with — including custodians, child nutrition staff, administrators and teachers.
Barbara Owens, a grandmother of three Booker students, surprised her grandchildren at the event and excitedly shared her love for them.
“This is my first [Thanksgiving lunch] event, but I come to all of their other school events,” Owens said. “Just being a grandmother and spending time with my grandkids excites me. This is the joy of my life, and this is what wakes me up in the morning.”