Food trucks are changing dining services at a number of campuses across the country. Not only are trucks being deployed to previously underserved areas of campus, but they’re introducing new and different menu alternatives to a student population that’s grown accustomed to such amenities.
But the University of Massachusetts Amherst is looking to add yet another use case for the campus food truck with a summer initiative that will provide free meals to young people around the community. As reported by MassLive, beginning June 25 and running throughout the summer months, UMass Amherst will provide free, healthy meals to kids and teenagers 18-years-old and younger via the university’s BabyBerk food truck.
UMass is participating in the federally funded, state-administered Summer Food Service Program. The BabyBerk food truck is collaborating with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund the non-profit meal program.
The USDA will provide the funding and develop program regulations, while the Massachusetts DESE will monitor and train BabyBerk employees to process and administer the program. UMass Amherst will also receive a small compensation for each meal in order to fund the project throughout the summer months.
University officials hope that BabyBerk will serve an average of 560 kids each day. The food truck will offer the free meals every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, excluding July 4th, until August 10th when the academic year will begin again. No student ID or registration is required to obtain the meals.
The BabyBerk food truck is a component of UMass Amherst Dining Services. UMass Amherst’s Director of Retail Dining, Van Sullivan, saw the university’s dining services and the food truck in particular as a good fir to the Summer Food Service Program as it has established experience in providing a large number of meals on a daily basis to UMass students.