Kent State Campus Food Truck to Deliver Meals to Local K-12 Students

Kent State’s famous food truck, known for its mouth-watering pulled pork sandwiches and fresh-cut french fries, is now becoming known for giving back to its community.

Kent State is loaning its campus food truck to Aramark to provide meals to students from Kent, Elyria and Lorain City School Districts who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The coronavirus outbreak has caused all schools in Northeast Ohio to close and move to online learning, which has spiked the concern of how meals will be provided to students who depend on school lunches.

Through the university's food truck, Kent State and Aramark have teamed up to implement a grab-and-go plan to serve meals to students ages 5-18 in those school districts.

Mark Joyce, Aramark’s resident district manager at Kent State, brought the idea to the table.

“The university has a community focus and partnership with Kent in general,” said Gary Goldberg, assistant vice president for Students Services at Kent State. “So when we heard about the opportunity to loan the food truck, it was kind of a natural opportunity for us to further the relationship and do something meaningful during a very difficult time for people.”

During the coronavirus outbreak, Justin Crews, the district manager for Aramark, said they have several waivers in place from the United States Department of Agriculture that are allowing them to feed any and all students that are in need of a meal.

Crews expressed that the goal of this is to reach and serve as many students as possible to create some sense of normalcy for students and to help lessen the burden on parents during this time.

Based on feedback from parents, Crews and his team are isolating and and identifying which neighborhoods, apartment buildings or housing areas to deliver to, ensuring they are capturing where the greatest need is.

“There is going to be a schedule released addressing specific days, times and how long we will be at a particular site,” Crews said. “The schedule will then be broadcasted out to parents, student groups and will be posted on the school districts websites to allow as much dissemination of the information as possible.”

The food truck will be in rotation from 10-2 p.m., Monday through Friday between Kent, Elyria and Lorain City Schools, and on Thursdays and Fridays, there will be enough meals provided to students to eat over the weekend.

Students will be provided one meal type per day and all meals will include milk, a vegetable, a fruit, a grain and a protein.

Crews and his team are ensuring they comply with shelter in place orders and practice safe physical distancing throughout the process.

“We will have cones set up at some locations where parents can drive through to receive meals,” Crews said. “They can tell us how many students they have and how many days we are serving them, and from there we will put those meals in their trunk, so we can deliver the meals touch-free.”

According to Joyce, Justin’s crew will have the truck through the end of July, with a possible extension depending on what school districts and Kent State implement for the fall.

Crews expressed his appreciation for Kent State and Mark Joyce and their willingness to allow him and his crew to use the food truck.

“They recognize the need in our communities, especially in Northeast Ohio,” Crews said. “I genuinely think it's very special, and I am very appreciative that Kent State is able to support us doing this.”

More information about this food service transportation program can be found on the school districts' respective websites.

POSTED: Thursday, May 14, 2020 - 10:44am
UPDATED: Thursday, December 17, 2020 - 10:01pm
Andriana Ruscitto