Chicago Food Bank Uses Free Food Trucks to Feed Hungry Kids

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For many students, summer break means a glorious two months free from teachers, classes, and books. But for kids who receive free and reduced-price lunches at school, the vacation days can cut them off from a crucial source of nutrition. Hungry kids in the Windy City had a hip ally this summer, though: a community-focused twist on America’s favorite culinary craze, the food truck.

While many city dwellers have embraced food trucks for their ability to mobilize gourmet delights, the Greater Chicago Food Depository has managed to transform the trendy trucks into something much more altruistic. As WGN-TV reports, the nonprofit food distribution center uses “Lunch Buses” to deliver food to needy students in the metro area.

Each weekday, the Greater Chicago Food Depository loads four buses with sandwiches and milk, and sends them to city and suburban neighborhoods with high concentrations of students who would receive free or reduced-price lunches on school days. Each day the Lunch Buses make 24 stops at convenient spots like libraries, parks, and community centers, where they distribute meals to kids under the age of 18. Every week the service is able to efficiently supply these youngsters with an estimated 4000 lunches.

“Seventy percent of kids who are eligible for reduced or free breakfast and lunches eat those meals during the school year, but during the summer, only 14 percent of kids get those meals," Paul Morello of the Greater Chicago Food Depository told WGN TV.

However, the Greater Chicago Food Depository is slowly helping to change this statistic with clever initiatives like the Lunch Buses. In summer 2016, they helped distribute more than 560,000 meals—meaning that plenty of kids were able to enjoy the warm summer sun with full stomachs.