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Food truck serves up summer lunches

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When the big red food truck pulls into the parking lot at the Hazel Hill apartments in Fredericksburg, it’s no secret.

City Schools Food Service Director Brian Kiernan announces over the loud speaker, “It’s lunchtime!” and honks the horn a few times to make sure all the kids around the complex know.

They trickle out of their apartments and from the leasing center, where activities are offered during the day.

The food truck, a new program launched by city schools, got rolling after some mechanical delays.

The program helps ensure that children in the city get good nutritional meals during the summer.

The truck makes three lunch stops: the Bragg Hill Family Life Center, Hazel Hill apartments and Mayfield Civic Association.

A whiteboard on the side of the truck lists each day’s menu.

One day last week, the kids had lots of options, including pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, hummus and pita, and more.

The truck not only brings the kids their lunches, but it also doesn’t cost them a penny. And if adults want to buy lunch, it’s $3.

In Hazel Hill, the kids pick up their lunches and eat inside the leasing center.

Their ages range from little ones as young as 2 or 3 to high schoolers at James Monroe. They usually eat together.

Katrina Ahmad–Zaki, 9, is going into fourth grade at Lafayette Upper Elementary School. She gets her lunch from the truck almost every day.

“It’s awesome,” she said. “You have so many choices.”

She enjoys eating lunch with her friends at Hazel Hill because during the school year, she doesn’t get to.

A popular choice is the nachos, which she says are not too spicy.

Another favorite is the veggie burger. Kiernan always makes sure there’s a vegetarian option.

Bahina Khilwatgar, 6, likes the pizza. She just moved to the complex, so eating lunch with the other kids has been a way for her to make new friends.

Kadija Fnu, 11, is excited by the actual food truck itself. She likes the nachos, too.

Ragan Bolick, the residential services coordinator for Hazel Hill, makes sure all the kids get fed.

She said they’ve had as many as 35 kids come for lunch at a time.

“I think there’s a choice for everybody,” she said.

Bolick said the food truck has been a great addition to the complex.

“It’s wonderful because it’s easy access, something different and hard to miss,” she said.

She sees the need for the truck.

“I think there’s a lot of kids that can be overlooked,” she said.

She spoke highly of Kiernan and his team for getting the truck going.

“BK himself has been out, and kids spread the word and there’s lots of new faces,” she said.

School Board Chairwoman Jannan Holmes rode along with the truck one day and goes to help out sometimes.

“I am so proud we are doing this and it was the brainchild of Brian Kiernan and David Baker [the school division’s chief financial officer],” she said. “Someone in charge of nutrition and finance to have such a heart for the kids we serve, that makes me proud to be part of city schools.”

Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413

This story has been corrected from an earlier version. The meals are for all children who live in the city, not just children eligible for free or reduced lunch.