The Woodbridge School Board voted five to zero to purchase a food truck for use by the district to help feed area students during the summer and for district uses during the school year. The cost of the truck will be $150,000 and the purchase will be made with federal Child Nutrition Funding. No local funds will be used in the purchase or operation of the truck. The food truck will make meals more accessible to students in need and therefore increase participation in the Summer Food Service Feeding Program.
Woodbridge Superintendent Heath Chasanov made a presentation to the board about the purchase of the truck during the August school board meeting.
“We have been delivering food to locations within the community during the last several years, but this will increase our ability to serve the children of the area,” said Chasanov. “This truck will allow us to see the meals delivered to the children. They will have to physically come to the truck to receive the food.”
Chasanov stressed to the board, “All costs associated with this program will come from the Child Nutrition Program. There will be NO local funding spent on this project. The increase in meals served will increase the amount of funding received by the Child Nutrition Program. We expect to recover the cost of the truck in four to five years. We have talked with several other school districts which utilize food trucks and learned the pros and cons of the operation. Several administrators spent several days riding with the truck to see how it operates.”
The truck will be purchased from Custom Mobile Food Equipment located in Hammonton, N.J. The company has been in business since 1942. They have worked with Papa Johns, McDonalds, Disney, Marriott, Wawa, Rita’s, Rutgers University, Millersville University, Toys R Us and many more major companies. The company built the food trucks for Seaford, Capital, Brandywine and the Caesar Rodney School districts.
“We have the ability to “piggy-back” off their most recent contract with Seaford for approximately $150,000 (all Child Nutrition funding),” added Chasanov.
Chasanov and Director of Food Services Joann Joseph explained the benefits of the truck to the board.
The truck will:
- provide a stronger distribution outlet to ensure program accountability;
- decrease food insecurity rates for district students by providing a more consistent delivery system throughout the summer (i.e. not relying on programs in neighborhoods being open);
- ensure students receive nutritious meals throughout the summer and continue to build strong relationships with our communities;
- provide meals to students in the summer through the district’s Summer Food Service Feeding Program;
- establish an outreach to the students in the summer that will include partnerships with academic programs such as providing books for the students to read during the summer; and
- strengthen partnerships with community organizations.
“We hope to be able to utilize the food truck for field trips, field days and other school events (senior picnic, staff appreciation days) during the school year,” Chasanov explained. “It can also be utilized at the high school for breakfast programs on various days during the year, so the students can grab their breakfast on the way into school and go straight to the classroom to start the day and bypass the rush in the cafeteria. We also hope to use the truck to participate in community events.”
Joseph explained, “All food will be prepared at the high school and delivered to various communities in the district by Woodbridge Child Nutrition employees (approximately 20 minutes per site). The food truck will be equipped to be a delivery vehicle, not a kitchen. Meals will be provided to anyone 18 and under at no cost to the individual. Students must be present to receive meal. This is a NO CASH operation which ensures a safer environment for our employees and community.”
Several board members asked about the accountability of who gets the meals.
“My concern is how do we know it is just our students who gets the meal?” asked board member Steve McCarron.
Board President Mike Breeding echoed the concern. “We could have children coming from all over to get food. Is there a way to make sure only our children get the food?”
Joseph told McCarron and Breeding audits are done by the Department of Education and the district to make sure our children are getting the food. “We can’t stop this from happening, but we make every effort to make sure it is just our kids.”