by Doug McClure
HARDWICK – In partnership with Vermont Everyone Eats and the Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE), the Caja Madera food truck, locally known as the “taco truck,” is offering free meals to children 18 years of age and younger on six dates while supplies last.
The first date is today and goes through Friday, with the same schedule next week from Wednesday through Friday. The food truck is open from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and is on Route 15, in front of the Wildcat Busing and Dona’s parking lot.
There is no income requirement to be eligible and no adult meal purchase is necessary. Children can choose either two chicken tacos or a Cabot cheese quesadilla. The meals come with local black beans, watermelon, and carrot sticks.
CAE Food Access Coordinator Meghan Wayland runs the Hardwick Everyone Eats program. She said that another CAE member, Place-Based Education Coordinator Reeve Basom, is very active in the schools and discovered a gap between the end of the school year and when free summer meals for kids start. Wayland said upon learning of that, she approached the state organizers at Vermont Everyone Eats to see if the program could fill the gap so kids would not go hungry.
The plan was to allocate 300 meals from Hardwick-area restaurant, she said.
Wayland said, “It’s a little outside of how the program usually runs, but it was an easy yes from the state org, and CAE quickly got the green light to do something creative. I reached out to Bryan [Palilonis] at Caja Madera and he was instantly on board.”
In addition to this creative solution to bridge that gap, Wayland said that “On June 1, CAE also distributed 271 $50 grocery vouchers to area food pantries as another means of supporting families during the transition to summer.”