These days, it seems like food trucks are everywhere. They have revolutionized street food and revitalized its popularity. Now, it appears, they are tackling a new issue - hunger. During the school year, millions of American children have access to free and reduced-price lunches aimed at alleviating undernutrition and leveling the playing field for public school students. These meals don't simply disappear during the summer. In fact, thanks to the USDA's new Summer Food Service Program, the meals are there. Unfortunately, without school as a means of organizing, getting kids to come to the meals can be pretty difficult.
In one New Haven, Connecticut school district, the solution was simple - embrace the culture of the food truck, typically vending anything from blood-orange glazed doughnuts to kombucha, and use it to distribute meals to underfed kids. In a bare-bones pilot experiment last August, the truck handed out over 17,000 meals in 20 days. This year they plan to double that during July and August, in a truck that now contains a generator and electric refrigerators.For the time being, most meals are a sort of glorified bag lunch, but Tim Cipriano, executive director of school food services for the district, says he hopes to change that. He wants hot meals and a salad bar.
The success of last years pilot program was enough to inspire other districts to join in. In Fayette County Indiana, 700 meals were given out in the first week of the program. In a county where 65% of students qualify for meal subsidies, and where summer dispenseries had to be shut down for lack of participation, the meal truck is filling bellies and changing lives.
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