Our food truck serving up lunch at Lucy Laney.
Getting high school students to embrace healthy eating is an age-old battle. And when it comes to lunch, many eschew their school cafeteria in favor of eating off-campus, where healthy choices don’t always abound.
Now school districts are starting to lure their students into eating better—by getting their own food trucks up and running on campus.
“Food trucks are a great addition to school food service—both from a way to engage the older kids and a way to engage the community,” says Ann Cooper, director of food services at Colorado’s Boulder Valley School District. “It’s part of a great overall marketing strategy.”
Last year, Boulder Valley became one of the first districts in the U.S. to start serving school lunches at a food truck during the academic year. The truck, which has been attractively styled as a cross between a rustic farmhouse and a milk truck, was funded by a $75,000 grant from Whole Foods Market.
Cooper says that though the truck mostly serves the same food as the cafeteria, and the prices are identical, but the students find the truck food more appealing.
“It’s meeting the kids where they are to provide a cool environment,” Cooper says. “There’s a different vibe to it, with music playing.”
In addition to rotating among local high schools during the week, the truck also comes to the district’s elementary schools for special events.
“Cafeteria participation has been up and so is the number of kids eating at the food truck,” she says. “So we’re getting a demographic that never [ate at] the cafeteria before. … Kids who walked off campus are now eating at the food truck.”
This spring, the Minneapolis School District will start serving daily school lunch from its food trucks, which have successfully been feeding students at field trips and special events for three years. Like Boulder Valley, the truck will rotate among its high school campuses.
“Principals have been begging us to get the truck out there,” says Bertrand Weber, the director of food services. “The main challenge is that we can’t keep up with the demand.”