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Summer lunch bus experiences increase of almost 3,000 children

Between breakfast and lunch, the bus provided a free meal to an average of 300 kids per day
by: Jeff Spiegel The bus, complete with storage space and shelves in the back, visited four locations every weekday during the summer.

While the Estacada summer lunch bus program has been around for a few years, last Friday marked the end of the most successful summer yet.

Last year, the lunch bus served free lunches to almost 7,000 youths throughout the area during the summer, but that number increased to nearly 9,500 this year. What's even more amazing is that the number does not include kids who receive breakfast on a daily basis, a number that is just under 3,000.

'We really didn't do anything new to the program other than adding the Barton Community Church location, but the growth shows a change in the culture around the district,' said Greg Lynch, Estacada School District's nutrition services supervisor.

While Lynch wishes the bus could run from the day that school gets out to the day it begins again, he realizes there are just too many things that need to get done to prepare for school to allow that.

In the meantime, Lynch is looking to enlarge the program again next year.

'We're going to try to expand as often and to as many places as we can,' he said.

The lunch bus offers anyone under the age of 18 a free bag lunch, complete with a hot item, a bag of chips, fruit, vegetables and a carton of milk.

Currently, the bus makes stops at Clackamas River Elementary for breakfast and then Eagle Crest Mobile Estates, Estacada Community Center and Eagle Creek Elementary for lunch.