Do you want to know how the food truck industry can grow even faster than it already has? Start teaching students in grade school how to operate in the confines of a mobile kitchen. If Jay Towell gets his way, an Abilene, Texas school district could be doing this. 

ABILENE, TX – The Abilene Independent School District is trying to get the ball — or in this case, wheels — rolling on a food truck that would both feed and educate students.

Jay Towell, the district’s director of student nutrition, said he envisions bringing a 24-foot truck to Abilene to serve students’ needs, in their stomachs and minds.

The mobile kitchen would be equipped with a char-broiler, oven, microwave, warming cabinet and two refrigerators and would serve food to students and possibly attendees at athletic events. The truck also would play a role in the nutrition education program Towell has championed, featuring various hands-on activities.

“We go to the elementary schools and talk about how to shop for food, what to look for, what foods to eat,” Towell said. “We talk about the different components of a meal. In the nutrition class, we develop recipes they can make, some basic recipes. We can take them to the food truck and have them make the recipes.

“The end goal is to take the products from the store into the kitchen and teach them how to prepare them. They can take ownership of the process.”

Reaching the students at the elementary level is key, Towell said, to making sure they understand not just culinary safety but also food safety. It’s not just teaching them how to properly hold a knife or what to use to pick up hot trays, it’s also sanitation and hygiene instruction, he said.

In serving food to students, Towell said he’d send the truck to the district’s high schools, including Holland Medical. He said McMurry University’s fifth-grade magnet school, a collaborative effort with the AISD, also would benefit from the mobile kitchen.

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