It’s an August day, 2017, and the children of the Northeast Kingdom(NEK) are enjoying the summer break from school. This particular day happens to be Friday, so The Lunchbox, the food truck of Green Mountain Farm to School (GMFTS) that brings free meals to kids 18 and under, is parked at Pavilion Park in Island Pond. Our partner, the Abbey Group has been busy prepping food, while the GMFTS team sets up educational and informational tables and take food orders. Kendall Lambert, GMFTS’s Consumer Education and Food Access Coordinator, remembers this August day fondly. “I looked out over the water and saw that there were about ten canoes loaded with kids heading our way,” recalls Lambert. The journeyers from Northwoods Stewardship Center were served 15 lunches that day.
The Lunchbox is open to all kids 18 and under, no matter their need. During the summer, according to Hunger Free Vermont, 40,000 children from low-income households lose access to the school breakfasts, lunches, and afterschool snacks or meals they receive during the regular school year. Summer meal programs like the Lunchbox fill a critical gap in their nutritional intake in the summer.
With three different locations, serving food three times a week, The Lunchbox handed out more than 1,500 free meals to kids in just 10 weeks! An additional 747 meals were purchased by adults, who appreciate the farm-fresh, locally-sourced tasty meals. Every adult meal sold helps to support the program.
This food truck is also keeping more food dollars in the community by purchasing approximately 60% of ingredients from local farms, while serving delicious, nutritious meals.
At every Lunchbox location, kids can be found at GMFTS educational tables: making seed art, planting seeds to take home, or engaging in taste tests of yummy treats made with fresh, seasonal produce.
This year,GMFTS was awarded a grant from the Children’s Literacy Foundation (CLiF) to coordinate with the Barton Library to have the CLiF program conduct an interactive story hour. Every child in attendance took home two free books.
GMFTS would like to thank our many supporters who purchased meals at the Lunchbox this year and our business sponsors, Concept2 Rowing and North Country Hospital, and the Abbey Group, whose dedicated crew prepared and served delicious, farm-fresh food all summer long. The Lunchbox would not be possible without the many partnerships and community members who support it. Together we are making a difference in the NEK.