Fifty-three million children receive free or reduced-price lunches at school every day. But during the summer, where do they get their lunches?
The USDA has a Summer Food Service Program to fill the gap after the school year is over. The Summer Food Service Program supports meals at sites throughout local communities; not just public schools are eligible to participate, but also private schools, church groups, community groups – any group that can provide know-how and a commitment to feed the kids for the entire summer.
The biggest problem is getting kids to show up for the meals. Transportation to get the kids to the feeding sites may not be available. Sometimes, there’s a stigma involved with getting a free lunch. Many families that qualify may not even know about the summer program.
One innovative solution that’s being tried in New Haven, Connecticut is food trucks. Rather than getting the kids to come to the school, the food goes to the neighborhoods with a high proportion of low-income families.
Food trucks have that trendy appeal right now. The number of cities with food trucks has been increasing. There are even television shows dedicated to trying out food trucks and letting us all know how the food tastes.
The food trucks serving the New Haven kids are giving out sandwiches, fruits and vegetables, and a carton of milk for lunch. They hope to expand later on and add hot meals or even a salad bar.
The idea has already inspired other school districts. Hopefully, this is an idea that will catch on and fewer kids will be hungry this summer.