West Tisbury School chef Jenny DeVivo is already a celebrity to the students and staff she feeds five days a week, nine months a year, with produce from Island farms and seafood from area fisheries. By the time school lets out next summer, she’ll also have gained nationwide recognition for competing on a Food Network reality television series.

“We’re the first-ever lunch ladies to appear on The Great Food Truck Race,” said Ms. DeVivo, who spent several weeks of her summer taking part in the rolling contest’s 12th season along with Nisa Webster, who works with her in the West Tisbury School kitchen, and Ms. Webster’s brother Eli Carroll. They also are the first Vineyarders on the program.

Jenny DeVivo is a strong advocate for healthy, well-made school lunches. — Maria Thibodeau

“We were honored to be chosen. And to represent food service workers from across the nation was a privilege and an honor,” Ms. DeVivo said.

Expected to air next spring, the season follows a familiar pattern that has earned The Great Food Truck Race an estimated 12 million viewers per episode. Teams of cooks, each with its own food truck, travel from place to place, vying against each other to sell the most meals and meet other challenges posed by the producers.

“We got to see an incredible amount of scenery and meet an enormous number of people,” Ms. DeVivo said.

Along the way, eliminations are followed by final rounds, and the suspense builds until one team comes out on top. In the contest’s early years, the grand prize was $50,000 with the winning food truck thrown in, but now the champion only gets the money.

Sworn to secrecy until the season airs, Ms. DeVivo couldn’t reveal how long her Lunch Ladies team (slogan: Think Outside the Lunch Box) remained in competition. But she smiled blissfully as she described the food truck, provided by the show, in which they barnstormed southern California.

“We had absolutely no idea what we were going to get,” she said.

“All three of us, our breath was taken away because it was genius. We were given a food truck that was designed to look like a school bus, and a follow-car that was like a little tiny bus.”

Both vehicles were emblazoned with the Lunch Ladies name, which the Vineyard team wore with pride on their matching T-shirts. Bright yellow high-top sneakers rounded out the uniform.

In Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Palm Springs and Santa Barbara, the food truck in a school bus drew both the curious and the hungry.

“We met lunch ladies, teachers, children, students, college professors, dancers, dance moms, soccer players,” Ms. DeVivo said. “We really connected with thousands and thousands and thousands of people. Our bus was like a magnet for people who wanted to know why there was a school bus in these different locations selling delicious Mediterranean wraps, hand-cut fries and donut holes.”

While fries and donut holes are not joining the West Tisbury menu — the school kitchen doesn’t even have a fryer — the food truck’s simple menu was in keeping with Ms. DeVivo’s philosophy of school cooking. She wants to eliminate what she calls the “food court mentality” that offers young children extensive lunchtime options.

“We find that the tremendous amount of choice screws with their brains. It really messes with their thoughts. Because they’re young, they need guidance,” she said.

Instead, Ms. DeVivo focuses on serving “real school food,” freshly prepared, simple meals using as much local produce and seafood as she can.

“We work diligently to scratch-cook 500-plus meals daily,” she said, with nearly 100 per cent of West Tisbury students taking part in the meal service.

“What we do is something that needs to be done for every single child across America,” said Ms. DeVivo, who used the Lunch Ladies food truck as a bully pulpit for her gospel of good school cooking.

“Kids deserve to eat healthy every single day. That should not be a problem.”

The Great Food Truck Race also gave Ms. DeVivo and her team the chance to show that Martha’s Vineyard, where some 40 per cent of schoolchildren are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, is not the affluent enclave many assume it to be.

“Demystifying what the Vineyard is about is another amazing piece about being on the show,” she said. “We had the opportunity to represent the Island and all of its beauty and its bounty and its simplicity and its hard working nature, through the eyes of a lunch lady and her cohorts.”

To see photos of the Lunch Ladies in action during the contest, visit instagram.com/lunchladiesfoodtruck.