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Food And Books Make A Perfect Pairing For Kids In Need In Conn.

A United Way food truck has started giving out more than just food in New Haven. Along with a nutritious meal, kids are also taking home one free book of their choice.

On Tuesday the food truck was parked in the parking lot of New Haven’s Cornell-Scott Health Center. The United Way’s Beth Pellegrino stood over a table full of books as a young girl walks up holding her lunch – a sandwich and juice.

“You’re going to kindergarten? Oh my goodness. You’re going to first grade? So, I think there’s some books over this way. Come check ‘em out.”

There’s classics like “The Little Prince” and “Mrs. Frisbee and the Rats of NIMH” for slightly older readers, but Pellegrino finds picture books for the younger ones.

“What do you like reading about?” “Um. Barbie.” “You like reading about Barbies? Well, look at this.”

There happens to be a Barbie picture book right there on the table next to her.

“How lucky are you? Do you want this? To take home?” “Thank you.”

This is one of a few United Ways across the country that have paired food with books. Jennifer Heath, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater New Haven, says, “We know that feeding kids’ bodies is really important, but we also know it’s really important to feed kids’ minds.”

So the group got in touch with New Haven Reads, a local literacy group.

“So that kids had the opportunity to pick out a book, and hopefully read, and really enjoy the sensation of getting lost in the book’s pages.”

Heath says the United Way of Greater New Haven really hopes to make this books-and-food pairing a regular happening from now on.