Green Mountain Farm-to-School’s mobile summer meal site, the Lunchbox food truck spent the summer out on the road again serving up free healthy, locally-sourced meals to our community. This year, the Lunchbox served 1,820 free meals to children, an 18 percent increase from the number of free meals the truck served in 2017. Additionally, 497 affordable adult meals were purchased by community members.

Summer meal sites were operated in partnership with The Abbey Food Service Group and were located at Newport’s Gardner Park, Newport City Elementary School, and Barton Public Library and ran from June 20th through August 17th.

The Lunchbox works to fill the summer nutrition gap that many children face during the summer months. “Here in Orleans County, over half of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch and about a third of the schools participate in the Universal Free School Meals Program,” explains Outreach Coordinator, Jeyna Diallo, “this means there are some schools where students receive free breakfast, lunch, and an after-school snack from the school. That’s the bulk of a child’s nutrition all being served by the school. But then summer rolls around and those meals stop, leaving a big void in nutritional meals for kids. The Lunchbox, along with other Summer Food Service Programs (SFSP), help fill in that gap for kids during the summer months, which is incredibly crucial.”

Thanks to our partners at each meal was crafted with the health of children and the importance of supporting local agriculture in mind. Bountiful salads with radishes and shoots from Pete’s Greens, lettuce from Berry Creek Farm and produce from school gardens were a favorite for adult meals. A favorite among kids was a ground beef burger from Brault’s Meat Market and Slaughterhouse in Troy, VT served on a whole wheat bun. For the more picky eaters among us, parfaits made with yogurt from Kingdom Creamery were a summer staple.

Over the course of the summer, the Lunchbox’s purchased $621.92 from local producers and utilized tens of pounds of local produce from school gardens.

In addition to serving up healthy, local, free meals, the Lunchbox also served as a valuable access point for other organizations in the community. In August the Children’s Literacy Foundation held a story time and distributed free books to children, Northeast Kingdom Learning Services and Journey to Recovery also engaged with outreach at Lunchbox meal sites.

GMFTS looks forward to a productive year getting healthy food to kids during the school year and the Lunchbox will be back on the road next summer. Hope to see you there! Learn more about the Lunchbox here.