Gates Chili School District launches a different kind of food truck

(WHAM photo)

Gates, N.Y. - The Gates Chili School District is going mobile with a different kind of food truck to increase the reach of summer meals.

The school district has turned a school bus into a cafeteria on wheels to help feed children this summer.

The "Spartan Eats" bus was modeled after Mobile Meal programs in larger districts across the country. Gates Chili converted the bus into a mobile cafeteria to keep students from being hungry over the summer.

"People don't realize that there's many children in the community that don't know where their next meals are going to come from," explained Gates Chili Director of School Nutrition Debbi Beauvais. She launched the bus last month with the help of donors, federal funding and Matthews Buses, Inc., a Dansville company that donated the remodeled bus.

"On our end, we're the transport," said Transportation Supervisor Matt Helmbold. "we get kids to and from school safely every day, and then to see the other side of things, it's a whole new experience."

"It just makes you feel really good to help out the community," he added.

The bus has been on the road, bringing breakfast and lunch to almost 1,000 kids each weekday, going to community events and apartments in Gates.

Bus driver Donna Bailey says this is her chance to bring a meal, a smile and hope to children.

"It kind of humbles me, because I'm able to give something to someone who doesn't have quite as much as maybe I do, or anybody," she said.

The meal bus is an entirely new territory for the high school.

"We're trying to fix the problem and get to those who don't have the food at home," she said, adding, "It feels good. It feels right."

The summer program ends Friday. The school hopes to continue to use it through the school year.

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