School nutrition programs do an excellent job of providing meals to youngsters during the school year, but nutrition is a year-round problem. While many districts participate in the USDA’s summer feeding program, these initiatives often find themselves handicapped by inadequate access and inconvenient and/or out-of-the-way serving sites, minimal promotion and a general absence of “buzz.”
To address these problems, New Haven has since last year deployed a highly creative solution: a food truck that delivers free meals to children in underserved neighborhoods during the interim period between the end of the district’s summer meals program and the beginning of school.
The $20,000 vehicle, donated by United Way of Greater New Haven, debuted last summer, serving over 17,000 breakfasts and snacks to kids 18 and under after the summer school program ended.
This year, it is offering whole grain cereal for breakfast and alternating deli sandwich and salad, both accompanied by fruit, for lunch and dinner. Also expected to boost meal counts is a parent participation grant from the Connecticut No Kid Hungry Coalition and End Hunger CT! that will allow parents to also receive a free lunch or supper from the truck.
It has been cited by First Lady Michelle Obama as an “innovative way” to improve child nutrition.
PROJECT TEAM MEMBERS:
Jennifer McGrady Heath
Vice President for Community Leadership, United Way of Greater New Haven
School wellness dietitian
General workers: Aisha Flynn, Sarah Crenshaw, Peter Bolash, David Prescott, café managers, Teddy Boyd, Cathy Rubano, Krima Byrd, Vencella Smith