Summer Feeding Sites: If You Build Them, Kids Will Come

July 20, 2016
by Lisa Mayse-Lillig


With a line this long, you would think that this food truck was the hottest ticket in town and for children at more than ninety sites across Orlando it is. As we approached a local YMCA, there was a steady stream of fitness buffs entering the building for their lunch-time workout and not a kid in sight. But once the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida food truck pulled up and opened its concession window, children flooded out of the YMCA gym and lined up as far as the eye could see.

Within fifteen minutes more than 50 children had received their hot lunches and gathered in the gym to complete their meals. The secret to this amazing service is seven, custom-made food truck trailers with built-in coolers and warming units, a highly efficient on-site production kitchen and a crew of dedicated program staff. Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida also partners with a local courier service to help drive the food trucks and transport the meals. With these innovative food trucks and equipment purchased through the ConAgra Foods Foundation Hunger-Free Summer Grant, a driver, and program staff member can pull up to any program site and, once mealtime is over, move on to the next. Each food truck will serve several sites a day and then return to the food bank to get ready to roll out for the next day. This ensures that underserved communities and program sites that are unable to store or heat food are able to provide meals to children during the summer.

While more than 60 percent of children in Florida qualify for free or reduced lunch, only about 9 percent participate in feeding programs. However, through innovative partnerships and some truly out of the box (or trailer) thinking, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is able to provide breakfast and lunch to more than 3,000 children a day.

Visit your local food bank to see what partnerships exist in your community or to find opportunities for you to help solve hunger.

*Lisa Mayse-Lillig is the director of program capacity and oversees various capacity building efforts including the Child Hunger Corps, SNAP Capacity Institute, SNAP Capacity Advisor Project and the Child Strategic Planning Year.