New Haven Food Truck Makes its Rounds

Truck Brings Healthy Meals to Neighborhoods

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The Food Truck
Photo:Tim Cipriano
Free Summer Meals for New Haven Students
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Free Summer Meals for New Haven Students

A mobile food truck is roaming the streets of New Haven this summer, handing out free meals to students from low income neighborhoods. The truck is reaching kids who might not otherwise get a healthy meal.  

The Betsy Ross School in New Haven is empty -- kids are out for the summer. But the parking lot outside -- that's buzzing. The New Haven School Food Truck has arrived.

Donna Barros is a cook for New Haven schools. She's handing out free turkey and cheese sandwiches on a whole wheat bun, with mustard. That comes with cold milk, fruit juice, and an orange, along with a big loaf of bread.

In 2010, 75% of students in New Haven Public Schools -- or about 15 thousand kids -- were living at or below the poverty line. That makes them eligible for free or reduced price school meals. The city offers some summer meal programs, but it's hard to reach all those students when school is out.

Chef Timothy Cipriano is Executive Director of Food Services for New Haven Public Schools.

"We also know that 1 in 4 children in New Haven lack access to nutritious foods everyday. So we want to be able to bring the food to them."

He says summer can be tough for families who count on nutritious school food programs during the year.

Enter the food truck. The colorful vehicle, splashed with a sign reading "Free Meals Here," hands out federally funded meals -- up to 400 a day. Kids under 18 are welcome to the meals -- no documentation or proof necessary. The truck stops at three New Haven schools each weekday, passing out lunch and an evening snack.

And the truck has attracted national attention from the Food Network and from First Lady Michelle Obama.