Island lunch ladies for the up-Island regional school district, Jenny Devivo and Nisa Webster, are representing the Vineyard community in the Food Network show “The Great Food Truck Race.” Now, the Island lunch ladies have made the finals. They’ll be on the Food Network finale at 9 pm on Thursday, April 23, at 9 pm.
“The Great Food Truck Race: Gold Coast” features seven different food truck teams competing for a chance to win $50,000. For season 12, premiering Thursday, March 19, at 9 pm, team Lunch Ladies, which consists of Devivo, Webster, and Eli Carroll, drove all across the country debuting their school-lunch themed cuisine. “Our motto is that we think outside the lunch box,” Devivo said. To go along with the school lunch-themed food truck, team Lunch Ladies drove around the country in an actual school bus provided by the show. “I want to give a shout out to the Food Network and the race for giving so much attention to the lunch ladies,” Devivo said.
In 2011, the team was given the opportunity to create a meal program for the up-Island school district that integrated more fresh produce and locally sourced ingredients into school lunches.
“We are looking to change the face of school food,” Webster said. According to Devivo, “meals matter,” and with the dynamic duo both being mothers, they know how important it is for kids to get nutritious and plentiful meals every day. “We are both moms, so we know what kids like, and we know what kids need,” Devivio said. “Team Lunch Ladies is really trying to think outside the lunch box and shift the boundaries of what kids eat and what they are accustomed to in their diets.”
Webster said working in a food truck was a little bit of a change compared to their normal milieu in Island schools, but they quickly adapted. “It was obviously a different environment than we usually work in. I have a pretty big catering background, so that helped us with the on-the-road aspect,” Webster said.
Despite the new workspace and the fast-paced nature of food truck cooking, the group was able to work together and succeed, one day at a time, all the while spreading their message of real food in schools across the country. Even with a smaller space to operate, Devivo said the fact that they were cheffing up delicious meals in a school bus reminded them every day of their ultimate goal — to show the world the immense possibilities of school lunch.
Webster said the team was able to meet with people from so many different walks of life and experience many different cultures while on their journey. “We are real, we are approachable. We connected with people in those communities, and they connected with us,” Devivo said.
According to Devivo, team Lunch Ladies wanted to prove just how achievable a delicious and nutritious meal can be. “We are always trying to educate people about nutrition and show them some easy steps to take,” Devivo said.
And the two lunch ladies weren’t in it for the money, the experience, or the publicity — they were solely dedicated to the children. “This is about sharing our message of quality food for children in schools, and we spread that message on a daily basis,” Devivo said.
Devivo said her mission on the food truck race was one she organically gravitated toward, and is one she will continue to relentlessly pursue as a lunch lady and food educator on the Island.
“I want to thank Nisa and Eli so much for their dedication, they really made this happen and put their hearts into this entire process,” Devivo said. “Everyone should tune in wherever you are and watch this party and the exciting adventure of team Lunch Ladies.”
Tune in to “The Great Food Truck Race: Gold Coast,” on the Food Network and cheer for our Island team, team Lunch Ladies, on Thursday, March 19, at 9 pm.