BabyBerk food truck to serve hundreds of free meals to local children and teens

The collaboration with the Summer Food Program will run from June 25 to Aug. 10


(Collegian file photo)

By Abigail Charpentier, News Editor

The University of Massachusetts Dining food truck, BabyBerk, will be serving free, healthy meals to children and teens in the Amherst area, starting on June 25.

BabyBerk hopes to service 560 people, ages 18 and under, each day during the summer program. Operating Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the food truck will make eight stops throughout the day.

BabyBerk will not operate on July 4 and will finish runs on Aug. 10.

The site schedule includes: Rolling Green Apartments at 1 Rolling Green Dr. from 10:30 to 10:45 a.m., Colonial Village Apartments at 81 Belchertown Rd. from 11 to 11:20 a.m., Butternut Farms Apartments at 12 Longmeadow Dr. from 11:40 to 11:50 a.m., South Point Apartments at 266 E. Hadley St. from 12:10 to 12:35 p.m., Village Park Apartments at 497 E. Pleasant St. from 1 to 1:30 p.m., Olympia Oaks Apartments at 85 Olympia Rd. from 1:55 to 2:05 p.m., North Village Apartments at 990 N. Pleasant St. from 2:20 to 2:45 p.m. and Mill River Recreation Area at 95 Montague Rd. from 3:10 to 3:30 p.m.

“We are honored that the Department of Education identified BabyBerk as a partner for this program. It’s fantastic that they will be able to fund such an innovative project,” said Ken Toong, executive director of UMass Amherst Auxiliary Enterprises, in a press release.

Census data of children who are at-risk for hunger was used to select BabyBerk’s location. According to the press release, “The program is significant in helping youth access healthy food while school is not in session.”

This summer program is a collaboration between the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Summer Food Service Program is federally funded and state-administered. The USDA provides funding and develops program regulations while the Massachusetts DESE monitors and trains partners like BabyBerk to process and administer the program on-site.

According to MassLive, the University will receive a small compensation per meal from the program in order to keep the service operating through the summer.

Director of Retail Dining Van Sullivan said the program was a good fit and a “win-win for everyone.” He also added the food truck is used to serving large groups of people on a daily basis.

“Every once in a while, you work on a program where everyone is like, ‘Yes, yes, yes, yes!’… “I was expecting some big ‘No’s,’ but they didn’t come,” Sullivan told MassLive.

UMass Dining has been ranked No. 1 in the country for two years in a row by the Princeton Review.

Abigail Charpentier can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @abigailcharp.