A blue school bus emblazoned with a smiling carrot and carton of milk will be driving around Brandywine School District this summer.
It’s the district’s newest solution to feeding kids when school’s out—a school bus retrofitted as a food truck.
It comes complete with refrigeration, a grill and a pizza oven. Student artist Hannah Chillingworth is behind the bus’ cartoon exterior, and school district mechanics retrofitted the interior. It’s funded by the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program.
Brandywine School District’s Supervisor of School Nutrition, Pam Gouge, says with nearly half the district’s students qualifying for free or reduced lunch, many rely on meals provided by the district to eat during the summer.
“The Food Bank a few years ago pulled out of … some of the areas in Brandywine School District,” she said. “So the Department of Education asked us to step up. And, you know what, this is what we’re doing now, twelve months a year. We’re just feeding kids.”
Until three years ago, lunches for students during the summer were available at select schools in the district.
“Our story started way back when we opened our buildings during the summertime to feed these children, and they weren’t coming. They didn’t have transportation to get here.”
The past two summers, the district’s summer food program has been run out of a van, according to Gouge. She says it merely transported food to these pick-up spots, but didn’t have any cooking capacity
Starting June 11th, the “Brandydine” food bus will visit three community centers every day, which Gouge says were chosen for their proximity to the most food-insecure students.
According to the district, any child ages 3 through 18— not just Brandywine students—can get a free meal from the bus during the summer.