The idea of operating a bookmobile to bring books to children around Sedgwick had been a dream of mine for a long time. I offered a reading program in the Sedgwick School Library as part of a summer program for a number of years. When the summer program ended, it bothered me to see such a valuable resource as the school library collection going unused through the summer. The summer program worked because we provided transportation. One summer I had the library open for a few hours each week in hopes that families would come and borrow books, but few came. I decided the best way to get the books into kids’ hands was to take them to them.
Some years ago, through the Good Food Project, Healthy Peninsula bought CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares and distributed bags filled with fresh organic produce to ten Sedgwick families weekly. It was a great opportunity for some families in our community to eat wholesome and healthful vegetables and, perhaps, try some new foods. Despite the incredible opportunity, having to get to our school to pick up their bags was apparently a problem for some people. They often simply did not show up. Taking food out into the community could possibly solve that problem.
Traveling farmers’ markets were commonplace in Sedgwick not too long ago. Local growers would drive around town and sell their produce door to door. It still seemed like a good idea. Farmers’ markets are held almost daily in different towns in this area during the growing season. Despite their availability, however, it is still often difficult for some people to get to them, and many people don’t know what they’re missing. Bringing wholesome food to their neighborhoods would make good food more accessible, plus people might learn to appreciate the quality of fresh, local foods and make an effort to add farmers’ markets to their shopping lists.
Combining the two offerings, books and food, and making stops in different parts of town to make them more available, as well as to bring neighbors together, was an exciting prospect for me. How to make that happen was another question altogether. When Healthy Peninsula was looking for new ways to distribute the farm shares and suggested that we might start a farm stand at our school, I proposed the Magic Food Bus concept as an alternative. Thus began a collaboration between community groups that has combined both our creative and practical resources and has served the communities very well.
Every community has its own strengths and and needs. Tailor a program to fit your community and your resources. Creativity, flexibility, and commitment will all help to ensure that your program is a success. I hope that the idea spreads, that more and more people will get on the bus.