Service agency joins forces with HPS
Wellspring Multi-Service Center is partnering with the Hull Public Schools to start a year-round food truck program to provide meals to Hull students and other residents facing food insecurity.
“Much of the program detail is still under development,” Wellspring President and CEO Vinny Harte told The Hull Times. “We are hiring now to staff the program. The truck, which could be delivered this week, is still dressed up for the previous owner. We will wrap it with our brand after we take possession.”
The School Committee expressed enthusiasm for the program when Harte outlined the general concept this week. He emphasized that “no stigma will be attached” to those who benefit from the food truck meals. “In fact, it will be fun. There’s a big-screen TV on one side and a sound system. It will be a destination that townspeople will be thrilled to be part of.” Social distancing and face mask protocols will be followed.
Wellspring and HPS also partnered this summer to provide students with five breakfasts and lunches each week if they were eligible for free or subsidized meals. “No student who needed food went without,” Harte said. “Our partnership continues to get stronger and stronger.”
To help implement Harte’s current initiative, Wellspring purchased a food catering truck, made possible by a generous donor, with the idea of not only replicating the earlier successful summer student lunch program but also providing fresh and hot food for those in need. They include people living in rooming houses in town and patrons of Aunt Dot’s Kitchen (Wellspring’s food pantry), as well as others struggling to keep food on their tables.
Part of the plan is to provide meals to paying customers and to accept donations – both of which would help defray some of the costs.
“The truck will be a new way to help ensure hunger doesn’t exist in Hull,” Harte said. “It will also raise awareness of food insecurity and hunger.”
The meals will be prepared in a certified HPS kitchen and also by participating local restaurants, with other possibilities yet to be discovered. The success of the program, Harte said, “is contingent on our creativity and our staff’s ability to make it happen.”
Another advantage of the food truck, Harte explained, is the opportunity it offers young participants, with jobs, training, and internships “to help students learn job skills for the real world.”
While some agencies are pulling back during the coronavirus pandemic, Wellspring is currently in “growth mode,” according to Harte.
Food pantry donations are adequate, thanks to the generosity of the community even during these difficult times. “We’ve also increased our purchases from the Greater Boston Food Bank,” Harte said. “If we start to run low, we will definitely put out a white flag.”
He voiced appreciation for food drives organized by Hull students in the past to benefit Wellspring. “The kids who participate learn good lessons from the experience, and the donations benefit people they don’t know,” he noted.
School Committee Chairwoman Jennifer Fleming welcomed the food truck program as “good news. Food insecurity is terrifying for people who are experiencing it,” she said.
School Committee member Ernest Minelli said the food truck is “a great example of Hull’s support network. Wellspring is an integral part of our community, and people on the South Shore identify our town [in part] with what [this agency] offers.”