BOSTON HOLDING FOOD TRUCK CHALLENGE (WITH A TWIST)

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Boston is having it’s own Food Truck Challenge this summer – but with a twist.  Mayor Thomas Menino is inviting vendors to compete in Boston’s inaugural summer Food Truck Challenge — but one of the main criteria will be how healthy the cuisine is.

Three contestants will be selected in the fall for their healthy menus and creative business plans, and the winning food trucks will snag a coveted spot on City Hall Plaza starting next spring, as well as financial support from the city.

The inspiration for the food truck face-off? Menino’s unwitting purchase of a soy bacon sandwich at a local truck.

“I went down to the farmers market at South Station, saw a food truck, purchased a BLT — I love bacon, right?’’ Menino recounted. “I didn’t know it was soy bacon. I ate it, and I thought, ‘Gee, this is really good.’ ’’

Supporting businesses that provide healthy food on the go, Menino said, will help residents and visitors eat better during the summer months, when fried food stands and ice-cold soda are daily temptations.

The Food Truck Challenge is part of the city’s three-pronged approach to fighting obesity and promoting a healthy lifestyle — expand access to fresh fruits and produce; limit the availability of unhealthy foods and sugary drinks; and encourage more physical activity.

The Food Truck Challenge will start accepting applications in August, and a panel of judges will review the proposals, said Julie Burns, the city’s director of arts, tourism, and special events. To date, the city has not given food trucks seasonal permits to operate on City Hall Plaza.

Though the criteria the judges will use to evaluate applications has not been finalized, Burns said that the city will be looking for creative ideas to get Boston eating healthier.

“We have no restrictions — it’s really an ideas competition,’’ she said. “The sky is the limit.’’ [Boston.com]

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