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Bus converted into lunchroom makes sure no child goes hungry this summer

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The Fuel Bus parked outside the Winona Public Library. The Fuel Bus parked outside the Winona Public Library.
A young boy enjoys his free sack lunch onboard the Fuel Up bus. A young boy enjoys his free sack lunch onboard the Fuel Up bus.
Jennifer Walters, nutrition director for Winona Area Public Schools, thanking the USDA for their support. Jennifer Walters, nutrition director for Winona Area Public Schools, thanking the USDA for their support.
WINONA, Minn. (KTTC) -

Winona Area Public Schools and the Winona Public Library are teaming up to make sure students don't go hungry during the summer.

It's possible with the help of a renovated school bus. 

The 'Fuel Up' lunch bus will be parked outside the Winona Public Library until next Friday, August 18th. The bus is open from 11 a.m. until around 1 p.m with up to 125 students getting a meal each day.

This is the second year the bus has been in use, but the food program has been in place for three years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides money to the Minnesota Department of Education to make the 'Fuel Up' bus possible. Because of the income in Winona, the Winona Area Public Schools qualify for a meal program through the USDA.

"We're thankful the USDA is able to provide us funds to provide meals to the children because it's important," said Jennifer Walters, the nutrition director for Winona Area Public Schools. "They need that fuel to learn...fuel during the summer that sometimes they don't receive."

Kids under 18 can pick up a sack lunch from inside the bus that includes a sandwich, fruit, vegetable, chips, and milk. 

Walters said the inspiration for the bus came after browsing the internet. She saw that other cities in the United States bought a bus and transformed it into something like the 'Fuel Up'  bus, so that's what she decided to do. 

When you first walk into the bus, it looks like a miniature lunchroom. The tables were donated to the school while the chairs are borrowed from the district. Children can choose to eat on the bus if they wish.

According to Walters, the bus was inexpensive but the real expense came when renovating it, though she didn't mention just how much. "We got a really good deal from our district."

The library was chosen as the bus's location because a lot of children attend the library's summer reading program. That's why the district decided to partner with the library.

Winona State junior Dacia Otto can't have a sack lunch since she's over 18, but likes the concept. "I think it gives [kids] a sense of security to know their community is doing something like this, and they can go here anytime they want if they have troubles at home getting food."

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