Lunch Buses Hit the Streets in Jefferson County

Jun 16, 2015

Senator John Unger hands out lunches to children in Jefferson County.
Credit Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Lunch Buses started up Tuesday in Jefferson County bringing meals to children and seniors at designated locations. But on the first day, things didn’t go quite as planned.

The day began at North Jefferson Elementary School, but no kids showed up.

Senator John Unger, a Democrat from Berkeley County, is the brains behind the Lunch Bus, and he decided if the kids weren't coming to the bus, he would take the food to them.

We drove into a nearby neighborhood. Principal Mary Ann Jenkins of North Jefferson Elementary seemed to know and remember each one of her students.

Senator Unger urged a handful of those students to come to the bus locations next time.

The Feed to Achieve Act, which is to improve academic performance by getting better nutrition, features its Summer Intergenerational Food Services Program. Lunch Buses are part of this initiative.

Credit Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The program is aimed to bring free meals to children 18 and younger during summer break when those children might not get a steady meal since school is out. Any child can come get a lunch, no questions asked, and no sign-ups are necessary. Seniors and adults are welcome to eat as well, but seniors are asked to donate at least $2 if they can, while adults are asked to pay $5.

Senator Unger is also a pastor and says he was inspired to begin the Lunch Bus initiative from the parable of the loaves and fishes.

“So the concept of this is we are not just feeding children, but we’re also developing community around that little boy, around that little girl," he explained, "That with that, we have seniors and children eating together, doing activities together along with volunteers, where if you ever put a senior and a child together, they both light up like Christmas trees.”

All meals arrive on a Lunch Bus, but it doesn’t just give out food. It also carries crates of library books for the kids to enjoy while they eat their lunch. The volunteers also have a number of other activities planned.

Unger says this initiative is the first of its kind in West Virginia.

Credit Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On Fridays, Lunch Buses will offer backpack lunches to make sure the children have meals over the weekend.

Meals are provided through donations from various organizations, such as the West Virginia Office of Child Nutrition, the US Department of Agriculture, and from a number of churches and non-profits in the area.

Lunch Buses will run from June 16 through August 14, and be at each location from 12-1:30 p.m.

Monday – Friday:   

  • North Jefferson Elementary School, 6996 Charles Town Road, Kearneysville, WV 25430
  • St. Andrew's MCC, 58 Mission Road, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday                     

  • Bolivar United Methodist Church, 1215 W. Washington Street, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425

Tuesday and Thursday                                       

  • St. John Lutheran Church, 950 W. Washington Street, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425
  • Blue Ridge Volunteer Fire Hall, 181 Keys Gap Road, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425

Wednesday Only                                                   

  • Anna Mae Reedy Senior Center, 103 West 5th Avenue, Ranson, WV 25438