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Swartz Creek district’s new “Dragon Diner” keeps students fed during summer vacation

Swartz Creek Community Schools in Genesee County has come up with a creative way to tackle student hunger during the summer: a bus-turned-food truck called the “Dragon Diner.”

Like many other school districts across Michigan, Swartz Creek offers students lunch and breakfast in various school buildings throughout the summer.

But as the district’s Food Service Director Micheal Wensel came to realize, kids whose families don’t have access to transportation can’t take advantage of those meals.

“Our school was getting rid of a special needs bus, and so we found an opportunity to turn that into a food truck,” Wensel said. “What better way to service our community than bring those foods to the kids that need it the most when transportation is a huge obstacle for them?”

More than half of Swartz Creek Community School’s students qualify for free or reduced lunch. But kids don’t have to prove they qualify in order to eat at the Dragon Diner. Anyone under the age of 22 can walk up to the window and get a meal.

The bus, which services eight rotating locations, offers both breakfast and lunch Monday through Thursday. On those mornings, two of the school district’s food service workers station tables and chairs outside the bus and set up a sign that features that day’s menu.

Wensel says the bus has been serving an average of 80 students per day since its first lunch service on July 22 of this year. His goal is to be serving 300 students a day between the Dragon Diner and the district’s other stationary lunch locations.

“If all of this went into feeding just one kid that would have otherwise went hungry, it would be a success,” Wensel said.

The Dragon Diner will stop summer service on August 23, but the district has plans to use the bus to feed kids during snow days this winter. Wensel also hopes to add more buses in the future so multiple locations across the community can be serviced at the same time.

You can check where the Dragon Diner’s location by visiting the bus’s twitter account.

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