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A food truck ready to rumble across the city of St. Paul this summer had some funky Arizona beginnings — decorated as it was with peace signs and peppers, and eyelashes over the headlights.

But the lashes are gone, and so, too, is the truck's original corn dog and Tex-Mex fare, soon to be replaced by the likes of chicken ranch salads and smoked-turkey-and-cheese sandwiches. And don't forget the fruits and veggies.

This food-mobile is a school lunchroom on wheels.

The truck, purchased a year ago with $25,000 in grant money, is the St. Paul School District's latest effort to boost youth participation in its federally funded summer meals program. The food is free, yet despite dozens of standing locations it has reached too-few kids, officials say, requiring mobile delivery of healthy fare to pockets of the city without readily accessible parks and community centers, said Monica McNaughton, the district's assistant director of nutrition services.

People who think children are making do on their own can think again, she said. Many kids skip meals, while others, enamored of the "quick foods, the pops, the chips, the fruit juices, the energy drinks," actually gain weight during the summer, recent trends show, McNaughton said.

St. Paul is not the first area district to roll out a food truck.

Two summers ago, Minneapolis Public Schools went mobile at four locations. A year ago, the truck could be seen again outside Southwest High offering a turkey burrito bowl with corn salsa. But that was before school let out for the summer of 2014. Today, the Minneapolis district's website makes mention of a food truck being available for rent, but it was not known Monday to what extent a summer meals-on-wheels program still is operating.

In St. Paul, where nearly three of four kids qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, the truck will roll from June 15 to Aug. 28. Plans call for nine stops a day, with three meals being served between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., McNaughton said.

She still is finalizing meal sites, but one, Sibley Manor, an apartment complex in the Highland area, is set to go. There, according to property manager Kathy Soderberg, the district has the potential to serve up to 150 kids, many of them members of families with two working adults, McNaughton said.

Typically, summer meals are available at places like rec centers, which must provide volunteers to help serve the food as well as follow rigorous federal reporting requirements. The truck, on the other hand, will be operated by district staff members who will tend to the paperwork themselves, meaning people at sites that the food truck visits "just have to be responsible for getting kids there," said Angie Gaszak, a district nutrition specialist.

The main goal, of course, is to see more kids getting fed — and in a healthy way. So, even as Gaszak notes that anyone 18 and under can show up to get their morning yogurt or lunchtime Italian combo wrap, she is quick to add: "And we don't card."

Anthony Lonetree • 651-925-5036