Back-to-school season is upon us and summer routes have come to an end for the Food Express Bus. The bus provided children with an opportunity to get nutritious meals during summer break and served as a mobile Safe Place site.
“It is truly inspiring to see the community come together to bring this project from an idea to a reality,” said Jon Escobar, Food Services Director. “From donors to youth artists, metal fabricators to outreach workers, everyone joined together with the sole purpose of feeding youth.”
In 2017 Fresno EOC piloted a mobile meal delivery system with pop-up sites bringing healthy meals to kids. Two years later thanks to the help of our community and generous sponsors the bus became a reality. From refurbishing a school bus to the Healthy Food Super Hero Art Contest, everyone played a role in supporting the launch and ongoing operations of the Food Express Bus.
This first summer of the bus brought opportunities for growth. There were five locations on the Food Express Bus route, with breakfast and lunch served each day. Some stops saw up to 38 kids for a meal. Staff have looked at the data and will adjust times and locations to make routes more efficient. This is just another beginning for Food Services; they’ve been feeding kids since 1965.
“The kids are excited to see the staff,” said Anaica Rodriguez, Community Outreach Specialist. “When the schools are closed, the families rely on the Food Express Bus to help provide a meal for their child.”
The bus was equipped with books for kids, air conditioning, indoor cafeteria seating and bright artwork displaying healthy food super-heroes designed by local youth. Fresno EOC programs partnered on the project to provide trained staff and community outreach while distributing meals to children.
Program partners included Transit Systems, Sanctuary and Support Services, Health and Dental and Employment and Training. As a Safe Place location staff were able to offer immediate assistance to any child facing a personal crisis or in need of safety.
The bus will be back on the road in December for winter break and again next summer to provide meals to children at no-cost.