By: Alicia Sands Lurry
The new Wellness on Wheels (WOW) food truck made its debut at high schools across the district last week.
Emblazoned with pictures of colorful, mouth-watering fruits and vegetables, the bright yellow WOW food truck is the first of its kind to be introduced in metro Atlanta. Designed to incorporate wellness and increase meal participation, this new concept offers Atlanta Public Schools students healthy meal selections at prices identical to those in school cafeterias. The truck also features locally grown fruits and vegetables and cuisine prepared by APS chefs.
Last Monday, dozens of students at Henry W. Grady High School stopped by the WOW truck. Selections included a Philly cheese steak sandwich; spicy, vegetarian black bean wrap (both came with raw carrots and baked chips); and a chef’s salad. Strawberry and tropical fruit smoothies were also on the menu.
“We’re trying to keep it fun, but do it with a healthy twist,” explained Executive Chef Lisa Cantor, who estimated that 200 students purchased lunch off the WOW truck.
Students like Malik Stevens seemed to like the new concept.
“I think it will attract more students and encourage them to eat at school,” said Stevens, who ate the Philly cheese steak sandwich.
Those are encouraging words for APS Nutrition Director Marilyn Hughes. According to Hughes, the truck affords students the opportunity to experience a non-traditional encounter with foods they normally eat in their school cafeterias.
“We’re hoping the colorful graphics will target student interest and excitement to increase meal participation,” she said. “The food truck also provides an additional point of sale, and is well-equipped to serve nutritious foods to a large number of students in a faster time frame.”
Gracie Dunn, a 10th grader at Grady, welcomed the idea.
“It’s nice,” said Dunn, who grabbed a strawberry smoothie during her lunch break. “It’s something different and it’s fun. We haven’t had anything like this this year.”
Hughes said the Nutrition Department enjoys providing students with special, healthy food options.
“We want to put the food closer to students so it is part of their social environment,” she said. “If we can do that, we’re sure that students will make food a choice.”
Hughes said the food truck will rotate through APS high schools and other school locations this spring, and can be reserved by any APS site for special occasions including field days and health fairs.
The WOW truck will be at William J. Scott, Perkerson, Burgess-Peterson, F.L. Stanton, Peyton Forest, and Beecher Hills elementary schools, May 6-16. It stops by Sylvan Middle School and Perkerson Elementary, May 18-25.