Posted by: Stacie Sanchez Hare

No Kid Hungry Texas is thrilled to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by highlighting stories from local Hunger Heroes dutifully serving meals to kids every day! Throughout the month, we will be showcasing the resiliency, diversity, and strength among the Hispanic and Latino communities, though our gratitude to these inspirational community leaders extends 365 days a year.  

Please join us in celebrating these incredible women, who shared with us their passion for food, family, and serving others.  

Flor Tamez (left) and Claudia Flamenco (right) are Zone Managers at Klein ISD where they support cafeteria managers in their efforts to nourish kids! 

Claudia Flamenco has worked at Klein ISD (Independent School District) for roughly 12 years – first as a specialist making food and serving kids, and now as a zone manager, where she supports six cafeteria managers in their effort to serve kids. For Claudia, the community has many strengths including the deep respect and trust that they have for one another. As Claudia says, “They are dedicated to helping each other in any way possible!” Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month is a tradition for Claudia, whose family usually celebrates with music and traditional food from El Salvador. When asked what she wants people to understand about Hispanic heritage, she told us, “It’s important for people to know that Latinos come from different countries – not just Mexico,” and that celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month is important because you can “show pride in your Hispanic and Latino heritage and reconnect with your roots.”   

Flor Tamez is also a zone manager at Klein ISD, where she provides training and support to six cafeteria managers at the district, making it easier for them to nourish kids. Flor has worked at Klein ISD for 18 years and is deeply proud of the Hispanic community. She thinks that celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month is important because she gets to talk about her roots with kids and “continue traditions that we had when we were little and celebrating in Mexico.” When asked why it is important for kids to have access to meals that represent their culture, Flor told us, “Kids get so excited when they see something from their culture on the line,” and for other students, food can be an avenue to experience other cultures. Flor’s Hispanic hero is Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor, who she says is “an inspiration to Hispanics and females.” She has many hopes for the future of her community, including that it continues to grow and provide educational opportunities to students with big dreams – perhaps even those with dreams of becoming a supreme court justice. 

Norema thrives in her role as a cafeteria manager where her lived experience helps her connect with and serve her students.

Norema Piña is originally from Tamaulipas Mexico and came to the United States when she was 15 years old. She remembers struggling because she was learning a new language. However, Norema always enjoyed receiving free meals at school. She had the opportunity to try new foods and remembers being happy when they had food that she recognized and enjoyed. Today, Norema is thriving in her role as cafeteria manager. Her lived experience helps her connect and serve her students, 90% of whom identify as Latino. Norema is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by serving foods from different Latino countries and encouraging students to dress in clothes from their culture. Norema loves what she does and believes food is todo, everything. “Kids need to learn about their histories so they can be proud of who they are and where they came from,” she told us. “It is important that others see who we are too, and that we are here…that we exist!”  

Evelin Hernandez’s story has come full circle since her days as a student in Aldine ISD, where she now proudly serves as cafeteria manager. As a child, she thought about becoming a teacher but says the path she chose is a better fit because she loves talking to all the kids and brightening their day with a smile and kind words. Evelin believes the role of food and connecting to the community is quite powerful. “It has a major role because food is one way to say I love you and I care for you!” She is excited to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by hanging posters in the cafeteria of heroes in the Latino community who represent distinct cultures across the Americas. Evelin is from El Salvador and encourages kids to see the posters and ask questions. She believes all kids need to feel part of the larger community, and when their cultures are lifted up, they feel important.  

Maria is helping students celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by playing traditional Latino music from various Hispanic cultures during meal service.

Maria Sanchez Garcia has been working in child nutrition for over five years and currently serves as a kitchen manager where she enjoys working with and encouraging others to grow both professionally and personally. Maria is originally from Mexico and celebrates her Hispanic heritage every day. This year, she will help students celebrate by playing traditional Latino music during meal services to celebrate various Hispanic cultures and ethnicities from Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. She also plans to celebrate with her family by getting together and sharing traditional foods, because “Food brings our families and friends together.” Maria hopes that the Latino community continues to grow strong and produce more leaders. To help reach this aspiration, she mentors colleagues so they can reach their full potential. For Maria, one positive aspect of her culture is that Latinos have a strong work ethic. “We need to teach the younger generation the truth about our culture and work to dispel negative stereotypes that hurt our people.”   

Nathalie Rivera is a proud manager in the Cleveland ISD child nutrition department. Nathalie’s family and community upbringing have developed her into the person she is today. Nathalie is most proud of the many traditions in her culture like Folklorico dancers, faith, and most importantly, food! Nathalie takes pride in offering culturally relevant meals to her students and believes that food and feeding others are a powerful way to connect across cultural identities. Nathalie looks to her mom as her Hispanic Heritage Month hero. Per Nathalie, “she has always been my backbone.”     

Ludi is a manager at Cleveland ISD. Her Hispanic hero is Selena!

Ludi Jimenez, a manager at the Cleveland ISD Child Nutrition Department, is proud of being part of the Hispanic community. She shared that “being Hispanic is so much more than the fun, the food, and the culture. It’s about our history, our struggles, our hard work and where we have come from. I am proud of being part of the most influential group in the world now holding some of the most important roles in our community.” Ludi finds inspiration in her colleagues on the serving line and her family because they “overcome their hardship and come to work every day to make life better for themselves, their children and all the children in the community.” For Ludi, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month is important because it allows us to “recognize and celebrate the many contributions and diverse cultures of the American Latino Community,” and will be celebrating this year by having a potluck at work where her colleagues will bring traditional dishes!  

We thank each of these hunger heroes for their service and passion. Do you have a #HungerHero you would like to celebrate during Hispanic Heritage Month? Tweet them a shout-out and use the hashtag #TXHispanicHeroes so we can celebrate them too!