Last week Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders joined Malden Public Schools (MPS) Superintendent Ligia Noriega-Murphy, Mayor Gary Christenson, State Senator Jason Lewis, State Representative Steve Ultrino, Department of Transitional Assistant Secretary Amy Kershaw, DESE Director of Office for Food and Nutrition Programs Rob Leshin, and School Committee members Adam Weldai and Michelle Luong at Coytemore Lea Park to celebrate the district’s new Food Truck. Secretary Sudders met with local children as they visited the truck for lunch.
The district was awarded a Food Security Infrastructure grant in the amount of $110,309 for the purchase of the food truck. This will help provide Malden students with access to free and nutritious meals on a regular basis. Recognizing the struggles families are facing during the pandemic, MPS wanted to ensure that access to food was not a burden to families and set out to find an innovative way to address food insecurity.
Prior to applying for the grant, school department officials examined the data related to the number of families accessing free meals each day. Recognizing that traveling to schools while also balancing the demands of work and remote learning posed a challenge for many families, the school department applied for the grant in early August and proposed the purchase of a food truck to travel throughout the city and bring food to neighborhoods. The rationale behind the proposal was that eliminating the barrier of traveling to pick up food each day would increase the number of students able to access the free and healthy meals they need, particularly during a time when buildings are closed. During this pandemic, food insecurity has been a major issue in many cities across the state and nation, and MPS wanted to make sure that Malden students would have access to free meals both during the school year and in the summer.
Pictured, from left:
Rob Leshin, DESE Director of Office for Food and Nutrition Programs, Malden Public Schools Business Manager Toni Mertz, School Committee member Michelle Luong, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, Mayor Gary Christenson, Malden Superintendent of Schools Ligia Noreiga Murphy, School Committee member Adam Weldai, Department of Transitional Assistant Secretary Amy Kershaw, State Representative Steve Ultrino, State Senator Jason Lewis, and (inside truck) Paul Romeo.