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Middletown's 'Meal Machine' Seeks To Reduce Local Childhood Hunger

Ambriehl Crutchfield
Middletown School District is rolling out a new food truck to serve students during the summer.

Middletown's school year may be ending, but families have a new food source to look forward to. Middie Meal Machine food truck will offer three meal options and can serve up to 250-300 meals at a time.

A light-gray food truck with geometric shapes sat behind Middletown High School last week, where chef Jerry Henderson rattled off various menu items, including tacos and teriyaki chicken.

Credit Ambriehl Crutchfield / WVXU
Chef Jerry Henderson and two others will prepare meals for students throughout the summer.

He said children will have three options to choose from.

"If you got a choice then you're more likely to eat it. Instead of just, 'OK you guys just take this bologna sandwich,' " Henderson said.

Middletown school district is 100% free or reduced lunch, according to the Ohio Department of Education.

"So you'll have students coming to school stealing food from other kids. It can be looked at as having a behavioral problem but it’s a survival issue," said social worker Myla Perry. "They don't have food at home so they are trying to get food for themselves and for their families. That carries on into grocery stores and convenient stores." She said the food truck also benefits people that may appear to be well off but may have an unemployed parent.

The food truck will travel to locations in the district including local parks, community events and schools, and is available to children younger than school age. The district is still figuring out the schedule of when the truck will operate.

The district's food service account is picking up the bill costing taxpayers nothing.