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During COVID-19, Central PA is Fighting Hunger One Bus at a Time

Posted by Curt Coccodrilli, USDA Rural Development Pennsylvania State Director in Coronavirus Rural
Aug 24, 2020
People distributing meals for kids
Pennsylvania USDA Rural Development State Director Curt Coccodrilli, left, was joined on March 20 by Cong. Glenn “G.T.” Thompson (PA-15), right, and Mel Curtis to help distribute meals for kids. Photo courtesy of the Office of Rep. Glenn Thompson.

In 2018, Mel Curtis, Branch Director of the Moshannon Valley YMCA of Centre County and Pauline Rabb, CEO with Cen-Clear Child Services, joined forces to retrofit a 72-passenger bus with a kitchen and appliances and dubbed it The Travelin’ Table Mobile Feeding Bus. The initiative was created to serve the children of Centre and Clearfield Counties not only with food, but also medical and dental care from Penn State University. In addition, the bus offers educational enrichment and physical activities.

In the summer of 2019, the Travelin’ Table Mobile Feeding Bus received USDA Rural Development funding through our Community Facilities program. Cen-Clear and other local contributors joined us in making this dream come true by securing the funding needed to convert the bus into a community aid vehicle.

Typically, the Travelin’ Table Mobile Feeding Bus makes anywhere from six to eight stops per day, partnering with the YMCA of Centre County, which already offers a backpack weekend food program, along with a summer lunch program.

However, after Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced a statewide school closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team behind The Travelin’ Table Mobile Feeding Bus knew they had a responsibility to heighten their response during the shutdown. And they did. As a result, children were able to eat as normal.

The response from the community was phenomenal. Volunteers came from all over Centre County to serve the kids. The bus allowed the community to shine in a time of crisis.

The response was so great, the Travelin’ Table team was able to fill the entire bus with food donations. In March, the bus parked in front of the Centre County Courthouse to provide meals with the help of volunteers from state and federal government. Congressman Glenn “G.T.” Thompson (PA-15) and I were honored to be part of this effort, helping to pack and distribute food to local students.

Pennsylvania has truly come together to provide meals to students across the state in order to help fight hunger. Together America Prospers.

Category/Topic: Coronavirus Rural