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LEON COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) – Many Leon county students rely on school meals all year long.
And with the end of school just around the corner, that means summer break, and those students who would normally eat at school, could be out of a meal.
Enter Second Harvest of the Big Bend.
This is not your average bus. Believe it or not, when kids see this bus, they want to hop on board.
“It’s very high energy, kids are excited, we see them running towards the bus,” said Shannon Piotrowski, the director of programs at Second Harvest of the Big Bend.
This used to be an ordinary bus taking Leon County students to and from and school. Now, it’s a mobile feeding bus that rolls into local neighborhoods during the summer, offering meals to kids who otherwise may not have access to nutritious food.
In 2014, Second Harvest of the Big Bend started Food on the Move, a summer feeding program, filling a critical gap in Leon county neighborhoods when school lunches aren’t in the picture.
“We will have 4 stops a day. The kids will come on board,” said Piotrowski. “They eat their meals and while their eating, they learn about nutrition.”
Whole Child Leon, partners with Second Harvest, teaching kids table manners and healthy living options.
One of the things that makes this program unique is that every day during the summer, children can earn “bus bucks” by answering questions about things they learn on board.
“At the end of the week, they can spend those bus bucks on toys, books, school supplies and hygiene items,” said Piotrowski.
The bus makes stops five, days a week, in eight neighborhoods. This year, they’ve added another stop to the list, hoping to feed about 80 children daily.
“In Leon County, there are about 10,600 children who are food insecure,” said Rick Minor, the chief executive officer of Second Harvest of the Big Bend. “Meaning, they don’t have regular consistent access to healthy food.”
According to Second Harvest of the Big Bend, one in four children in Leon County are hungry on any given day, that’s why families count on Food on the Move during the summer months.
Minor says, donations from the community keep the bus rolling, filling stomachs and fighting hunger.