On Tuesday, June 1 the wheels of the Lunch Box Bus, operated by our partner, Of One Accord, will be rolling again on the winding rural roads of Hancock and Hawkins counties in East Tennessee delivering meals to hungry children living in isolated pockets of poverty.
Thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, Of One Accord is expecting to deliver 9,000 lunches by July 30 to children living in low-income areas of the two counties ensuring they have at least one filling, nutritious meal each weekday — even their pantries at home are bare.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the Lunch Box buses — retired school buses converted into mobile cafeterias — would arrive in their neighborhoods where the children would board the bus and enjoy their meals with their siblings and friends.
But last year, due to COVID-19 restrictions the children were given free bag lunches to eat at home as Of One Accord Executive Director Sheldon Livesay was determined to get them fed one way or another.
Sheldon reported that they did receive permission from the U.S. Department of Agriculture which oversees the Summer Food Service Program to do drop-off bagged lunches this summer as they did last year, but he remains hopeful that if/when the restrictions are relaxed that kids will be able to eventually enjoy their meals on the bus once again.
These children served by the Lunch Box bus count on the free and reduced price meals they receive at school during the school year, but in the summer months they rely on the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® who help make the program possible.
While it may be hard for most Americans to believe, it’s a sad fact that many parents in distressed Appalachia communities served by the Lunch Box bus program, such as Rogersville and Church Hill, struggle to keep their children fed in the summer.
“This time of year, humble family budgets won’t stretch far enough to buy groceries,” notes Americans Helping Americans® Executive Director Cameron Krizek. “Too many honest families just run out of food in the summer.
“Many are already barely surviving — even before the hardships that the coronavirus brought.”
And while their parents search for work, and consider themselves “lucky” to find menial, minimum-wage jobs, the children are often left to fend for themselves.
But thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® they have something to look forward to each weekday as they see the Lunch Box bus coming around the bend.