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OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Centennial High student Ashton Farris gets ready to hand out bags for families waiting to use a  new Food For Famlies mobile food pantry. Seeing a big yellow school bus roll down the street is typically a sign that school’s in session, but students at Centennial High School have given it a different meaning.


Members of the Future Business Leaders of American (FBLA) club at the high school have repurposed an out-of-work school bus to be a mobile food pantry for the community and called it the Food 4 Families project.

Adriann Hardin, a Centennial High School business teacher, said students took the lead on the project after the school board brought them the idea.

“Students wrote the business plan and are writing the grants and trying to get businesses to support us, because obviously we have infrastructure expenses,” said Hardin. “We were doing a lot of fundraising and grant writing and doing things at the high school so that we could get enough money to do what we needed to make the bus look the way it does now.”

The FBLA club reached out to engineering and art students at the high school to help them transform the bus into a grocery store on wheels.

And besides the fact that it’s a big yellow school bus, there’s nothing bus-like about it anymore. Save for the driver’s seat, the rest of the seats were removed and replaced with shelving. Patrons entered the bus through the front steps and exited with their groceries down a ramp on the back of the bus.

The food was provided through a partnership with the Oregon Food bank.

On Saturday, Aug. 26, the Food 4 Families bus was parked outside the Bi-Mart parking lot at 174th and Powell Boulevard with a line that stretched into the hundreds.

Students were still setting up inside the bus. Some stocked eggs and shelf-stable milk, and others lined up boxes of Triscuits.

Hardin said the goal was to stock the bus with culturally appropriate items along with pantry staples such as milk, bread, crackers, soup and other items.

When the clock struck 4 p.m., families were allowed on the bus. They were given reusable bags and cookies to eat while they waited in line.

“I think it’s awesome. It’s a blessing they did this,” said Ken Glaspey, noting the money he does bring in is used to support his mother and buy food for his dog.

Another man, Danny Vance, waited in line with his wife and son.

“You struggle to pay your bills and get a roof over your head,” Vance said. “Getting food is huge.”

Amelio Rubio waited for his wife and daughter to make their way through the bus and waved as they emerged with boxes and bags of food.

He said his daughter had asked him that morning why the school was giving out food to families. He answered with another question: “Where does food come from?”

“God,” his daughter answered.

“Well, don’t you think some of these people prayed for food?” Rubio said, wistfully recalling the conversation with his daughter, tearing up in the process.

All in all, Hardin said the event provided 116 families with 3,800 pounds of food.

The next service date for the mobile food pantry is 3-5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23, at the Centennial High School parking lot at 3505 S.E. 182nd Ave. For more information, visit www.food4families.net.

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