The Van Buren School District has received approval to purchase a food truck.

Members of the school board voted 5-0 Tuesday night to buy the 18-foot custom kitchen truck from Cruising Kitchens of San Antonio, Texas, for $146,934.

Board members Kevin Bell, Carman Young, Theresa Bell, Lance Lanier and Christy Mayo voted to purchase the truck upon the recommendation of Superintendent Dr. Harold Jeffcoat and Roy Kendrick, director of child nutrition for VBSD. Board president Candice Settle-Beshears and vice president J.R. McPhate were absent.

Jeffcoat said the administration recommended the purchase from Cruising Kitchens, even though it was the highest of three bids, since the two lowest vendors required a significant deposit before building the food truck.

Unlimited Spaces LCC of Hialeah, Fla., wanted $50,000-plus on its bid of $131,250 while ATX Food Truck Builder of Austin, Texas, required a $94,000 deposit on its bid of $134,550, Jeffcoat said.

“After visiting with Arkansas Legislative Audit and our attorney, we believe we need to purchase from the company that does not require upfront payment,” Jeffcoat told the board.

Jeffcoat said the food truck will be purchased with funds from a “very healthy child nutrition budget.”

“All child nutrition dollars have to be spent in the area of child nutrition,” he said. “None of these dollars can be spent on district general operations, such as salaries, curriculum or transportation.”

Jeffcoat said Kendrick has done an excellent job building a strong balance over the last several years.

“But, it is to a point that we need to spend some of it,” he said. “In fact, we recently received a letter from the Arkansas Department of Education politely stating we had too much money in our child nutrition budget and they asked us to submit a plan on how we would spend it down.”

Kendrick said the district will be able to use the food truck in a number of ways while increasing student participation in eating meals.

“This will change the mindset of what school meals are about,” he said. “It will enable the district to continue to provide the very best food experience for our students.”

Kendrick said the food truck could be used during the summer feeding program and at sporting events as well as festivals and other district catered events.

“It is a traveling kitchen that could be used anywhere it might be a benefit,” Jeffcoat said. “Any money made from the food truck would go back into the child nutrition budget.”

Kendrick pointed out the eligible students will receive free or reduced-prize meals.

Jeffcoat said it will take about eight weeks for the food truck to be completed.

“It will have a 20,000 mile, two-year warranty,” he said. “It should last us for years.”

The board also:

• Hired Michelle Bobbitt as a literacy intervention paraprofessional at Van Buren High School, Chandler Papasan as a literacy intervention paraprofessional at Parkview Elementary School, Rexanne Russell as a secretary at Parkview, Emily Cross as a bus aide, Natasha Anderson as a cook at City Heights Elementary School and Loree Crawford as a cook at Northridge Middle School.

• Accepted the resignation of Kelly Elliott as a bus driver.