Food Trucks: Increasing Participation in School Lunch Programs

Healthy Food Choices in Schools February 07, 2018 Print Friendly and PDF

food truck

Food trucks, as a delivery method for school meals, have seen a rise in popularity in recent years.  While the concept in some districts initially began in an effort to reach food-insecure kids during the summer months, when school was out of session, food trucks have since evolved and are now increasingly making their way into reimbursable lunch programs across the country.  What’s more interesting, they’re seen as an effective way to reach a traditionally tough crowd: teenagers.

In 2014, Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) started its own food truck program with a unique spin. The district began focusing its efforts on serving reimbursable lunches at its five high school campuses. The goal was to create a trendy environment and student-approved menu items to increase participation in the school meal program. Additionally, the food service team began using the food truck to cater community events during its off hours to raise extra money for the food service program, a practice which it continues today. 

With the help of a grant, a used food truck was purchased and outfitted with new equipment and a colorful exterior wrap before hitting the high school circuit.  Students came up with a clever name, the Munchie Machine, while staff designed social media pages to advertise daily menus and share the truck’s location.

At BVSD, everything that’s sold from the food truck during the school day is a reimbursable meal, and it connects to the point of sale system.  There are three daily options, one of which is vegetarian.  Some of the most popular menu items from the food truck include sliders, tamales, quesadillas, tacos, and grilled cheeses. 

If you’d like to learn more about this innovative approach to increasing participation, watch the webinar below presented by Chef Ann Foundation. The presentation features Brandy Dreibelbis, Boulder Valley School District’s former Head Chef, who discusses the steps taken in preparing the food truck for its launch. 

 

In this presentation, you will:

  • Review the equipment and permits needed to operate a school food truck.
  • Understand how marketing, branding, and outreach can lead to a more successful food truck program.
  • Hear recipe suggestions for food truck meals that will fit within the National School Lunch Program’s guidelines.
  • Learn how to budget for and run a financially responsible school food truck program.

Presenter: Brandy Dreibelbis, Nutrition Services Director, Napa Valley School District, Former Chef and District Manager, Boulder Valley School District

Continuing Education (CE) Credit:

  • 15 minutes Communications and Marketing code (4100) 
  • 15 minutes Facilities and Equipment Planning code (3500) 

Contributors

Heidi Kessler, Chef Ann Foundation, Chief Programs Officer

Molly Brown, Chef Ann Foundation, Administrative and Programs Associate


 

 

 

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.