Valley View’s Summer Food Truck
Fountaindale Public Library in Bolingbrook is one of six total stops on Valley View School District 365U summer mobile meal route. Valley View’s summer mobile meals started in 2017, serving Bolingbrook and Romeoville. The mobile routes: 3 in Bolingbrook and 3 in Romeoville serves anywhere between 400-800 meals a day.
It was a natural partnership between the library and the school district as the library does activities and programming to support kid’s education and development. “You come to the library for lunch to nourish your body and stay at the library to nourish your mind,” said Paul Mills Executive Director of Fountaindale Public Library. During lunchtime the children’s department of the library puts a table out that has a craft, puzzle, or small activity kids can do.
Based on the number of meals the school district served its first year Meghan Gibbons, Director of Nutrition Services for Valley View said it was a sign that the Summer Meals Program was needed in the community. “Between our summer mobile meals and our schools that were serving meals we ended up serving over 40,000 meals last summer.”
Valley View School District prepares all of the meals out of Bolingbrook High School. Meals are shipped from the high school to sites in thermal hot/cold packs.
At Fountaindale Library the Valley View school bus loaded with thermal packs arrive a few minutes before their start time of 12:20 p.m. to set up. As kids line up they are handed bags to put their lunch in and go down the line selecting an entrée, fruit or vegetable, milk, and dessert.
Kids eat outside sitting on benches in front of the library, in the shade under trees, or inside the air conditioned building where tables and chairs are set up.
Margaret Mbuthia brings her daughter, Sara to the Fountaindale Summer Meals site. Mbuithia sees the Summer Meals program as something that is good for the community. “The program fulfills a need. It’s something kids can look forward to in the summer and one less meal I have to worry about.” Mbuthia’s daughter really likes the meals. “She goes home and tells her brother who is in summer camp about the meals and he asks, ‘can I get one?’ so I have to tell him that you have to be there to get a meal and that he can come and get one the days he isn’t in camp.”
“We continue to serve meals almost all year long at this point because that need is always there, it doesn’t go away just because you take a summer break. Our kids rely on it,” said Gibbons.
Gibbon’s takes the kid’s favorite foods and makes them healthy. “I’m a mom too, I just don’t want my kid to have pizza but if it’s on a whole grain crust, there are vegetables in the sauce, it’s low sodium, and low fat then I can justify that pizza. We try to do this with all our meals,” Gibbon’s said. The Slushie Cup is 100% fruit juice, chocolate chip cookies are whole grain, the Doritos are whole grain, reduced fat, and the hot dogs are all natural beef on a whole grain bun.
Heather Lee likes the healthy options the meals provide her daughter Sienna who loves the bread on the Cheese Pizza Anytimer. “She gets to make the pizza herself and it’s similar to the Lunchables she eats sometimes for lunch at school,” said Lee.
“We have the advantage of knowing what our kids like because they are our kids,” said Gibbons.
The Valley View Summer Mobile Meal program will run until August 10th. For more information on the school district’s mobile sites visit Valley Views’s website. For information on Fountaindale Public Library visit https://www.fountaindale.org/.