The program has served 91,338 meals in its first dozen years, and it will surpass the 100,000 mark sometime this summer.
Beginning June 4, the Lunch Box program will be making 24 stops Monday through Friday around Rogersville, Surgoinsville and Church Hill, serving free lunch in neighborhoods with a higher density population and more children. (See below for schedule.)
What is the Lunch Box?
The program offers free lunch to all children under the age of 18.
The Lunch Box now operates four former school buses which have been transformed into mobile cafeterias, two of which are based in Rogersville and two in Church Hill.
In the past two years since the Lunch Box increased to four buses, it has served an average of 13,500 meals per summer.
Of One Accord director Sheldon Livesay noted that’s a far cry from the program’s launch in 2006 with a single school bus making six stops in Rogersville and serving 1,344 meals all summer.
“It’s really good to think of how many children we’ve fed over the years and, equally important, how many young lives we’ve touched through this program,” Livesay said. “Food insecurity in our communities was a problem then and continues to be a problem today, and unfortunately it’s the children who usually suffer the most. Certainly many people deserve praise and gratitude for the success and growth of the Lunch Box program, which is a wonderful example of how communities can come together and identify a problem and then address that problem.”
He added, “But there are still children in Hawkins County we aren’t able to reach and more room for growth. Right now we’ve stretched our income to cover as much territory as possible, but we’re working on doing more.”
What’s the history of the program?
Children who receive free and reduced lunches in school get a least one good meal per day on weekdays, but in the mid 2000s it became apparent that many of those children couldn’t count on receiving a good meal when school was out during the summer.
In 2006, former Lunch Box program director Kathy Doerr came up with the idea of transforming a decommissioned school bus into a mobile cafeteria.
Rogersville City School had a contest to name and design the first bus in 2006, and although it took awhile for word about the program to spread, by 2009 the program had served 3,848 meals.
In 2010, a second bus was added to serve the Church Hill area, increasing the number of stops countywide to 12 and the total number of meals served to 8,175.
In 2016, thanks to a Walmart grant, the program purchased two more buses, one for the Rogersville area and one for Church Hill, increasing the number of stops from 12 to 24.
In 2016, the Lunch Box served 14,459 meals, followed by 12,464 last year, with the decrease attributed to the shorter summer break, although the number of meals served per day was slightly up.
The Lunch Box progam’s budget for 2017 was $67,933, including $39,549 for Rogersville and $28,383 for Church Hill.
The 2018 Lunch Box shedule:
Rogersville Bus #1
11:15 — 11:35: Big Creek MHP, 207 Carters Valley Loop
11:40 — noon: Carters Crossing, 416 Carters Valley Road
12:10 — 12:30: Rolling Hills MHP, 162 Shanks Gap Road
12:45 — 1:05: Dylan Heights MHP, 215 Stanley Valley Road
1:15 — 1:35: Fugate Hill Apartments, 623 Watterson St.
1:45 — 2:15: Rogersville City Park at Pool Parking Lot, 331 Park Blvd.
Rogersville Bus #2
11:00 — 11:20: Prices MHP, 251 Choptack Road
11:25 — 11:45: Prices MHP 2, 222 Choptack Road
Noon — 12:20: Arrowhead MHP, 2013 Brown Drive
12:30 — 12:50: Terrace Apartments, 801 W. Broadway
1:00 — 1:20: Harmon Drive, Harmon Street
1:30 — 1:50: Swift Park, Hasson Street
Church Hill Bus #1
11:00 — 11:20: Glenview Apartments, 110 Pridemore St., Church Hill.
11:30 — 11:50: Dogwood MHP, 929 Old Union Road, Church Hill
Noon — 12:20: Cross Roads MHP, 233 Payne Ridge Road, Church Hill
12:30 — 12:50: Frosty Acres, 244 Shipley Road, Church Hill
1:00 — 1:20: Hidden Acres, 5130 Carters Valley Road, Church Hill
Church Hill Bus #2
11:00 — 11:20: Beechwood Hills MHP, Beechwood Hills Road, Surgoinsville
11:30 — 11:50: Stoney Pointe MHP, 2901 Main St., Surgoinsville
Noon — 12:20: Hickory Hills Apartments, 370 Silver Lake Road, Church Hill
12:30 — 12:50: Silver Lake MHP, 340 Silver Lake Road, Church Hill
1:00 — 1:20: Stroupe Court Apartments, 200-216 Stroupe Court, Church Hill
1:35 — 2:20: Church Hill City Pool, 424 Lane St., Church Hill
Stationary dine-in locations:
11:00 — noon: Hawkins County Boys and Girls Club, 1604 E Main St., Rogersville
11:00 — noon: Shepherd’s Center, 306 E Main St., Rogersville
11:30 — noon: Rogersville City School, Ready Reading Program, 116 W Broadway St., Rogersville
Noon — 1:00: First Freewill Baptist, 208 Maple Lane, Church Hill