Indianapolis Public Schools is trying a new way to get free lunch to students this summer.
A new “café bus” is making two stops at the Stratford Apartments on the Far West Side each weekday, between 30th and 34th streets.
Last summer, IPS gave away 61,000 meals through its participation in the USDA's Summer Food Service Program. But district food services manager Amanda Kruse says they were still missing hungry kids ‒ including some who just can’t walk or get transportation to a feeding site.
“So we saw the need of being able to bring a mobile unit ... to the kids and it has proved to be the best decision that we've ever made," she says.
Since mid-June, Tranatta Hardiman and another IPS staffer have been driving a van to two spots in the Stratford Apartments complex and set up the food giveaways for around 115 students.
But now, the pair are working out of a completely renovated schools bus outfitted to serve food to 600 students. The so-called Bus Stop Café ‒ designed with color images of burgers and vegetables ‒ went into service Monday.
Recently, Hardiman handed out barbecue sandwiches, fruit, vegetables, snack packs and even frisbees.
“They are happy that we are here,” Hardiman says. “A lot of them say, ‘thank you very much for even coming.’ So yes, that puts a smile on your face.”
The food van is only making stops at Stratford apartments this summer but that could expand next year.
More than 55,000 students have received free meals from the IPS program since last month. Meals are available through July 21.
For food location sites and times for the 2017 IPS Summer Break Meal Program, click here.