News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

This School Cafeteria Stayed Open When Classes Closed For The Holidays

Bill Zeeble
Andres Estrada and his daughters in Dan Rogers Elementary's cafeteria

Most kids in Dallas schools get free breakfast and lunch on campus every school day. So what happens when Dallas schools are closed all week for the Thanksgiving break?  

Dan D. Rogers Elementary isn't turning out hundreds of meals this Tuesday before Thanksgiving. But the school's small kitchen is still cooking.

Ashyia Brewer is the cafeteria supervisor at the school.

“We’re feeding kids,” she says. “They just asked if anybody wanted to volunteer to work three days for the break, and we volunteered to do so.”

Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News
Dan Rogers Elementary's cafeteria crew of (l-r) supervisor Ashyia Brewer, Debra Miller, Shelia Brown

Cafeterias at Rogers Elementary and seven other Dallas schools stayed open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to serve breakfast and lunch. Brewer’s crew served breakfast from 8 to 9 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to noon. The doors opened for anyone younger than 18.

“Kids need to be fed, and we just decided we would be the ones to feed them even if it’s just us,” Brewer says.

Andres Estrada is grateful. The construction worker brought his two daughters, some nieces and a nephew here for lunch.

“I think it’s good,” Estrada says, “because it helps parents who are working and kids who maybe don’t eat in the house as much. They get a free meal here. So I mean it benefits everybody.”

Estrada’s fourth grade daughter Valencia liked it.

“We ate fish,” she says quietly, “with a peach, with ketchup, and we ate a mango.”

Valancia was among about 15 people who ate lunch here Tuesday. Brewer says twice as many students showed up Monday when it was cooler and sunnier. She also served up macaroni and cheese, and broccoli for kids who wanted any.  Jackuelyn Estrada likes broccoli. She also liked the roomier, less crowded cafeteria.

“Sometimes if there’s a lot of people,” Jackuelyln says, “sometimes the line takes a long time and then you take forever and then maybe you’re hungry and you want to taste the food.”

Cafeteria supervisor Ashyia Brewer says this is the first time she recalls the Dallas district offering to keep school kitchens open before Thanksgiving. She’s been here eight years.

Come Thanksgiving and Friday, she’ll spend the holiday at home, like everyone else, including the Estrada family. The school’s cafeteria will be closed.  

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.