Three cheers for Nutrition on Wheels!

By Tina Dirmann

BCBSLA Foundation Staff Writer

Usually, the new Nutrition On Wheels truck we helped fund some months ago is used to roam in and around the middle part of our state, under the guidance of the Food Bank of Central Louisiana. The goal? Helping to feed those within the community with little access to healthy, fresh produce.

But it warmed our hearts to hear about the latest use of this kitchen on wheels project, created through the Central Louisiana Local Foods Initiative (a Challenge for a Healthier grant supported program). You see, earlier this week, the truck paid a visit to the Trinity Episcopal Day School in Natchitoches, where the school’s 3, 4 and 5 year olds were treated to helpings of freshly made vegetable stir fry.

We know what you’re thinking…. Toddlers gobbling up stir-fry? Vegetable stir-fry?

Indeed, they did — chomping down on broccoli stalks and all.

“Actually,” reported Linda Hutson, director of development and community relations for the food bank, “Not one of them said, ‘I don’t want it!’ They all took the bowl and several even said they liked broccoli. We were grateful for that.”

Yes, that is quite a gamble, introducing a bunch of kiddos to a meal made of nothing but veggies. But the point, according to the school’s director, was to incorporate the truck’s visit with the school’s weekly nutrition lesson. Representatives from the school reached out to Hutson after seeing the truck highlighted in a local news story.

“They called and asked us if we could come by the school during their school’s food lesson plan and so, we did,” Hutson said. “It’s the first time we’ve taken the truck to a site like this. And they’re certainly the youngest and harshest critics of all. But they seemed to think it was all pretty neat.”

Many of the kids loved crowding around the truck to watch a television screen affixed to the outside of the vehicle, allowing them to see the cooks as they prepared the meal inside this mobile kitchen. About 40 kids in all took turns watching chefs slice and dice a mix of cabbage, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, peppers and onions. At the end of the day, each child went home with a copy of the stir-fry recipe (and another copy was emailed directly to all parents). With any luck, they’ll all be demanding this healthy alternative for dinner some nights, Hutson says.

We think they will, too! After all, the day’s lesson took place during a down pour of spring rain. But even the wet and muddy conditions couldn’t keep this crowd from missing out on the truck’s visit. And we think that’s clearly a sign of new foodies in the making!