Greenville County School District students might abandon the cafeteria for the curb. On Thursday, the district invited about 30 students from the Kroc Center day camp to sample a cheeseburger from the window of its latest addition — a food truck. It was a hit.
“I don’t know what’s going on in the cafeteria, because this food is so much better,” said Quentin Hoe, a student at AJ Whittenberg Elementary School.
The district got the idea for a food truck about two years ago to help feed more students, according to Joe Urban, food and nutrition services director.
“Food trucks are trendy, and it offers an opportunity for kids to get outside and grab a quick bite to eat,” said Urban. “We’re always trying to push the envelope.”
In January, the school district’s Food and Nutrition Services (FANS) department purchased the truck. It then spent several months repurposing and equipping its interior to receive DHEC approval. It was approved on July 6.
FANS spent $11,000 to purchase the truck and $39,000 to repurpose the interior.
FANS is a self-sufficient agency that receives about 60 percent of its profits from USDA reimbursements for free meals and about 40 percent from its food sales, according to Urban. So it did not use money from the school district’s general fund for the truck.
The truck will begin serving food to students on July 18, according to Urban. It’s being used to service the district’s free summer lunch program, which is held at 52 locations throughout Greenville. The program serves about 5,300 meals per a day.
It will also help FANS feed students who may not have access to the lunch program.
“There are areas in Greenville that don’t have access to our meals. So our mission is to identify those areas and reach the kids that need the nutrition. There’s a huge nutrition gap in the summer, and this truck will only help us get to those kids,” Urban said.
The food truck will begin servicing Greenville County’s 75,000 students once schools open on Aug. 18. A schedule hasn’t been determined for the truck. It will, however, mostly serve middle and high schools, according to Urban.
It might also be used for school and community events.
The food truck doesn’t have a consistent menu. It will change on a weekly basis, serving various foods that both FANS and students choose.
“We’re constantly working throughout the school year and the summer to create new menu items. But we challenge our culinary arts students to create recipes for our lunch menu,” said Urban. “Our lunch menu already has three items created by students.”
During the 2015–2016 school year, FANS added sushi, St. Louis style ribs, Buffalo wings, Latin fusion tacos and other foods to the school district’s lunch menu.
In June, Greenville County School District announced that it would offer free breakfast to its 92 schools beginning in the 2016–2017 school year. The district started serving free breakfast to 36 schools in 2014. Then it expanded to 52 schools in 2015.