When the Food Bank of South Jersey (FBSJ) team made the decision to get an additional vehicle to deliver meals to children over the summer, little did they realize it was going to do more than drop off food. An old school bus was given new life and brought a different sense of excitement to a disadvantaged community.
Children from Salem County wait in anticipation for the bright yellow and red bus to pull up; when it comes to a stop, they hop on full of vigor and giggles… their faces plastered with joy. As they take their seats, there are no book bags to adjust or seatbelts to fasten, instead they sit down to a delicious lunch provided by the Food Bank of South Jersey’s Summer Meals Program.
For many children who rely on their school’s meal program, when the bell sounds to dismiss school for the summer, they are left food insecure. The Food Bank’s Summer Meals Program provides children with fresh and nutritious meals during the summer. The addition of a renovated, air-conditioned school bus decked out with seating has transformed the lunchtime experience into a community activity where children look forward to gathering together while they socialize and enjoy a meal.
With over 57,000 food-insecure children living in South Jersey, the Bus Stop Café is doing its part in the fight to bring hunger relief to these precious kids. According to the United States Census Bureau, 13.8 percent of individuals from Salem County live below the poverty level. Many of the children who get their meals from the bus reside in those households. The Bus Stop Café becomes their dinner table.
In 2017, the mobile eatery with its vibrant exterior design of jolly-looking fruits and vegetables such as corn, watermelon and broccoli, served over 8300 meals.
As the Bus Stop Café drives around Salem traveling from stop to stop with nutritious meals, it is fulfilling a vital part of the Food Bank of South Jersey’s vision to make sure that no child goes to bed hungry!