Mobile Summer Meals
“Chicken salad or wow butter?” Roberta asks to each child as they, some shyly and some eager and smiling, approach the food truck. It’s a sunny Thursday and Roberta will follow that question with an offer of milk roughly 225 times every day of the week.
From the middle of June through the middle of August, Roberta works handing out free summer meals on Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) Mobile Café. It is the third summer with the truck, originally funded by a grant from Second Harvest Heartland and it has allowed Saint Paul Public schools to reach children in high-need areas where there weren’t other meal sites nearby.
This year, the mobile café makes stops at seven locations, parks or apartments to reach children where they are from 10:30 a.m. to 3:20 p.m.
So why is this program so important to the Saint Paul community? According to Jill Westlund, Nutrition Coordinator with SPPS, their vision is to eliminate hunger by providing every child with HOPE through exceptional food.
“This program allows us to expand our meal service into areas where the need exists but there is not a Park & Rec shelter or school nearby. It also allows us the flexibility to serve meals in areas such as a cluster of apartment complexes, where there is a high population of kids but no gathering space. That convenience is wonderful for the families who participate. We often see the same kids waiting for the truck to arrive every day, and our staff looks forward to greeting those kids with a smile and a healthy meal,” said Jill.
This year, SPPS received funding through Second Harvest Heartland and Share our Strength to help increase engagement and awareness in the meal program. They know that kids will come back for meals and even tell their friends if meal time is easy to access and fun. So on the sunny Thursday, while kids and teens of all ages enjoyed their meal they can also be found playing with their neighbors, gathering books to take home – leaving with smiles and full bellies.
Thank you, Saint Paul Public Schools Nutrition Services for helping us reach more kids with free meals this summer! To learn more about the Summer Food Service Program or to find a free meal near you, visit 2harvest.org/summerfood.