Jefferson County Lunch Bus Finishes Up its First Year
In June, Lunch Buses hit the streets for the first time in Jefferson County. Two months later, the initiative comes to a close with hopes to expand next year.
For the last two months, buses brought meals, books, snacks, and activities to kids at two locations in Jefferson County. The goal was to bring free meals to kids 18 and younger who may not get steady meals over the summer since school is out. The initiative was also to encourage seniors and children to come together – forming community.
Senator John Unger, a Democrat from Berkeley County and a pastor at three churches, is the brains behind the Lunch Bus. He started the initiative as part of the Summer Intergenerational Food Services Program, which is part of the state’s Feed to Achieve Act. This statewide childhood hunger law seeks to improve academic performance by getting better nutrition to West Virginia kids.
The Lunch Bus was a brand new thing in Jefferson County this summer, and Unger says it was the first of its kind in West Virginia.
“So this time we added the Lunch Bus aspect to go out into those communities, not to bring the children and seniors to a certain spot, but to go where they live, into their communities and bring the meals and activities and the books and so forth,” Unger explained.
Meals were 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.
Unger says there were two Lunch Buses running Monday through Friday as well as a handful of other set locations where children could go and pick up meals. The two Lunch Buses saw around 50 kids each day, but all locations combined served around 150 kids daily.
Next year, Unger hopes the Lunch Bus idea is adopted all over the state.
“I know that there are remote areas that in the summer there are children that go hungry. There are children that are lonely up in those areas, and I’d like to see lunch buses go up into those hollers, and everywhere else to actually go to those children and those senior citizens that feel in some respects imprisoned in their homes, because they don’t have any way of coming out, but to bring them out and get them to know each other and to build those relationships that build a strong community.”
On Monday, students in Jefferson County will return to school, so the Lunch Buses won’t be running anymore, but Senator Unger hopes the kids remember the Lunch Bus and look forward to it next summer.