At Issue: Bringing free, farm-fresh food to kids during the summ - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

At Issue: Bringing free, farm-fresh food to kids during the summer

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It's not unusual these days to see a food truck parked on the side of a Vermont road. We found Tosca Smith inside one in Barton, prepping for lunch.
"Nice Cabot cheddar, they have local greens. Those are from St. Johnsbury I want to say this week," she says.

That's a teriyaki chicken and brown rice wrap she's making with local produce.

"The carrots are Pete's Greens," she says.

Turns out, this food truck's primary customer can't even see over the counter to place their order.
"We know that summer can be a hungry time for kids, especially those that rely on the school meal program during the school year and so we wanted to bring good food to where people already are," says Katherine Sims with Green Mountain Farm to School. "So we got a Fed Ex box truck and we outfitted it with a commercial kitchen, and we are on the road four days a week in communities across the Northeast Kingdom bringing good food, free food to kids that comes from our local farms."
Just like schools get reimbursed through the national school lunch program, so does Green Mountain Farm to School, which runs this truck for ten weeks in the summer.

Sims says 60 percent of the food budget goes to local food. Twelve Vermont farms and food producers contribute to what is made here.

Reporter Julie Kelley: "What do you think of the food truck?"

Student Aidan Poginy: It's good. Best wrap I've ever had.)) [Duration:0'06"]

This is Aidan Poginy's first time at the Lunchbox. The 10-year-old came with his mother and brother.

So far, the Lunchbox summer meal program has served more than 650 meals this summer -- 133 in Barton, 414 in Newport and 100 in Island Pond. It's on track to serve more than 1,600 meals this summer.

The menu board also offers meals for adults for just over $5. Sims says the money they make from that helps offset the cost of running this program.

So just like at school, here in the summer, they also give kids a chance to taste test a different vegetable that's grown locally, and today its zucchini and squash. So kids can come and taste a zucchini muffin, then they can take a chip and decide whether they thinks it's good, okay or not-so-good.

They're feeding more than just hungry bellies here in Barton.

"Actually Wednesday's have become my favorite day at the library!" says Toni Eubanks, director of the Barton Public Library.

She jumped at the chance to partner with Green Mountain Farm to School and have the food truck parked outside her library. She even changed the time for story time to 11 a.m. on Wednesday, a half hour before the truck starts serving. She plans crafts for the kids and reads books before lunch.

"We come pretty much every week, and we enjoy the story hour and crafts that Toni provides and then we come right out to eat. So I don't have hungry children and we get nourished in our minds and our bodies which is great!" says mother Monique Schneider.

A perfect pairing for Vermont kids. Just ask Aidan, who hopes to come back again!

"I just like their flavoring and their food. It's good!" he says.

This is the second summer that the Lunchbox has been on the road serving kids. The lunchbox stops in Barton on Wednesday, Gardner Park in Newport on Thursday and Pavilion Park in Island Pond on Friday. They serve lunch from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. each day.

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