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CISD Child Nutrition Mobile Diner Rolls Out for First Road Trip


                Cleburne ISD’s “Meals on the Bus” mobile diner made its first road trip Wednesday, traveling to Santa Fe Elementary to provide students with a unique lunch period experience.

                A longtime goal of CISD Child Nutrition Director Kim Chance, the converted school bus will be utilized by teachers for class rewards and parties, while expanding the district’s “reach” through the federal Summer Food Service Program to include children in rural high need areas outside the city limits.

                “I’ve wanted a mobile diner for our program a long time,” Chance said. “I’m especially excited to take our Meals on the Bus out this summer to rural areas of our district, to provide lunch for kids 18 and under. We have always used a couple of our campuses as feeding sites in the summer, but a lot of our kids who live in the country don’t have the transportation to get to them. Our plan is to make 4-5 stops in populated rural areas, where kids can come out of the heat and eat lunch with us in our air-conditioned bus.”

                Cleburne’s mobile diner is a 1987 GMC school bus that had been retired from regular route service to the district’s reserve list, reflecting its still-road-worthy condition. The motor from a second model of the same year is also serving in a new way as a training aid for students in the high school’s Career and Technical Education Heavy Engine/Diesel Technician program.

                After undergoing an interior and exterior redesign, Cleburne’s Meals on the Bus features a 1950s diner feel with its black and white checkerboard floor, red benches and table tops and chrome stools, offering counter and booth seating for up to 31 “customers.” Installed kitchen equipment will allow for the safe service of hot and cold foods while the bus is in use. There are also plans for the installation of TV and sound equipment to add to the “dining” atmosphere.

                Among those experiencing their school lunch—in a diner setting—were first graders in Carmen Rios Lopez’ class.

                “I like that we have this,” Rios Lopez said. “We can use this for good behavior and other rewards. My kids did great on their mid-year tests, and I wanted them to get to do something different, to get out of their routine, so I signed up with our cafeteria manager for lunch on the bus. I told my students it would be a surprise where they would be eating lunch today. I know they will want to do this again—it’s something special.”

                Termed the “fun bus” by teachers scrambling to reserve the mobile diner for classroom events, including upcoming Valentine parties, one Santa Fe pre-kindergartner asked if that was the “eating bus” upon its arrival at his campus.

                “It exploded my mind when I saw this would be where we were having lunch,” first grader Brianna Rutiaga said. “It’s pretty nice. I’m very grateful for this.”