By Rachel Ham | Cola Daily
Lexington-Richland School District Five’s summer feeding program isn’t serving up lunch just in school cafeterias and churches this summer. The district rolled its brand-new food truck into two Irmo-area apartment complexes Monday.
Corporate sponsors including WP Rawl & Sons Farm in Pelion, Frito-Lay and Pepsico donated $30,000 to purchase and outfit the Pronto Taco truck. Funding for the tacos, chips and drinks comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as does funding for other summer feeding breakfasts and lunches. A low-sodium ground beef is used to meet USDA requirements.
Director of Student Nutrition Todd Bedenbaugh said the food truck allows the district to serve children who don’t have a way to get to a summer feeding site. River Oaks Apartments and Irmo Village Apartments were chosen specifically because nearby Irmo Elementary School didn’t qualify for summer feeding funding.
“There are kids who don’t have transportation in the summer, but they need to eat,” Bedenbaugh said. “We decided to come to them.”
Kids at Irmo Village Apartments quickly lined up as soon as Pronto Taco was parked and the order window opened. Bedenbaugh said a taco truck was chosen since student nutrition staff can prepare the meat and toppings beforehand and easily transport everything they need. Taco salad is also the most popular meal during the school year.
Latasha Martin, a mother of two, said Pronto Taco makes lunchtime much easier for parents with limited transportation and budgets.
“This is an excellent way to provide food for the kids …. There’s no child that has to go hungry,” she said.
Pronto Taco also provided a volunteer opportunity for sisters Lindsey and Emily Richardson. They came to pass out hand sanitizer bottles for kids to hook to their backpacks, and they gave out information on the importance of hand washing.
“It’s nice to help out the families,” said Emily, a rising junior at Chapin High School.
Pronto Taco will travel to Lexington-Richland Five’s high schools during the school year. Students can purchase lunch for a few dollars, and money will go back to student nutrition initiatives like school gardens.
“We’re told we’re one of the only districts in North or South Carolina with a food truck,” Bedenbaugh said.
Children ages 2 to 18 can pick up a free lunch beginning at 11:15 a.m. each weekday at River Oaks Apartments or at 12:15 p.m. at Irmo Village Apartments. The mobile summer feeding option will run through the first week of August. Tacos and other balanced meals that fit federal school lunch guidelines will be served.