After serving 16,884 lunches over 44 days last summer, the Hillsboro City Schools Summer Food Service Program plans to return this year with hopes of serving more meals, director Jessica Walker told the board of education Monday.
Walker was honored at the regular board meeting for her contributions to the summer food program, which included her convincing the board to purchase a customized 18-foot vehicle specifically designed for meals to be served from. The new HCS Tomahawk Food Truck cost approximately $100,000.
“It was a great success last year,” superintendent Tim Davis told Walker, speaking of the food truck. “Thank you for all you have down for turning our food service around.”
Walker told the board that Anna Aber, one of her assistants, was largely responsible for the success of the truck.
“I couldn’t have done it without her,” Walker said. “She was on the food truck every day and she was the one that made it go as good as it did.”
Walker said she believes more meals will be served this summer with increased marketing. She said she hopes to add a couple new stops that will hopefully reach more children in need of a meal.
A year ago the truck routinely made six stops – Hillsboro High School, central office, Treewood Apartments, Cedar Wood Apartments, Hillsboro Fire Station and North Beach area at Rocky Fork Lake. In addition, breakfast and lunch were served at Hillsboro Elementary until June 30.
On Monday, Walker told the board she would like to add a stop closer to the Bright Local School District, since it has 65 percent of its students on the free and reduced-price lunch program, and possibly maybe another stop at the old school site in Marshall.
She said she might also switch the Treewood stop to the Hi-Land Terrace Apartments. She said the only reason Hi-Land Terrace was not a regular stop last year was because there was construction going on there. She said the program only served an average of five meals a day at Treewood and would probably serve around 30 a day at Hi-Land.
Walker said she might make the Rocky Fork Lake stop a little later in the day because she believes more meals could be served then. Last year the food truck stopped at Rocky Fork from 12:45 to 1:15 p.m.
Board member Tom Milbery asked it was possible to meet the summer lunch needs of most students in the school district.
“I think so. I think we’ll definitely do more this year,” Walker said. “One of our big pushes before the summer is making sure that people know we’re doing it.”
Walker also told the school board that the number of students receiving either free or reduced-price lunches is down about 8 percent this year. She said the school district usually has 57 to 58 percent of its students receiving free or reduced-price lunches, but this year 45 percent are receiving free lunches and 7 percent are receiving reduced-price lunches.
The district has saw an increase the last two years in the number of students participating in the free breakfast program, Walker said. Two years ago, an average of 407 high school students participated in the program daily, but this year that number is up to 592 students. At the elementary, the figures were an average of 551 students daily two years ago, with an average of 555 students this year.
Walker also noted that since the 2015-16 school year the district has saw an increase of 7,435 paid students meals. She said that’s likely due to more lunch options being offered at the school.
During his superintendent’s report, Davis said that so far this year the district has had three days of school canceled due to snow, two days with two-hour delays and one day with a two-hour early release. He said that a lot of events have been canceled because the district did not want students, parents and others out on the roads after events when the roads had refroze.
By a 4-1 vote, the board approved a motion for Sunday athletic participation, if necessary, due to inclement weather or other unexpected activity that would prompt the rescheduling of tournament play. Board member Jerry Walker voted against the motion, while Milbery, Beverly Rhoads, Bill Myers and Larry Lyons voted in favor of it.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or [email protected]