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HERO TO THE HUNGRY

Susan Zanatta, 36, county school food service operations specialist and dietitian, stands near the “Cruisin’ Cafe,” a bus the department used to transport food to children throughout the summer. The bus got a new look on the outside and was refitted on the inside with diner-style seating, coolers and warmers.

PAULETTE LASH RITCHIE | Times

Susan Zanatta, 36, county school food service operations specialist and dietitian, stands near the “Cruisin’ Cafe,” a bus the department used to transport food to children throughout the summer. The bus got a new look on the outside and was refitted on the inside with diner-style seating, coolers and warmers.

BROOKSVILLE

Not all school buses sat idle during the summer. There was at least one still roaming the roads, but not in its usual capacity.

This bus was revamped into the Cruisin' Cafe and was the reason Susan Zanatta was honored with a Hernando County school district Heroes Award at a recent School Board meeting. Zanatta, 36, is the district's food service operations specialist.

Zanatta and food service director Lori Drenth wanted to provide lunches to as many children as possible over the summer, and they had heard about something similar in another county. Zanatta took off with it.

"We already provide summer meals," Zanatta said. "It was another way to get food to students who might not get a meal."

The district's transportation department provided the food service department with an out-of-service school bus. Food service then had the bus wrapped on the outside and refitted on the inside.

Wrapping involved the application of graphics to the exterior of the bus, including the Cruisin' Cafe logo, fruits and vegetables. The bus is white under the graphics.

On the inside, the seats were pulled out and replaced with diner-style seating and warmers and coolers for the food.

"They got a hot meal," Zanatta said. "It wasn't just cold sandwiches."

Food was served to whoever showed up, ages 2 to 18.

"Anyone hungry," Zanatta said.

Some daycare centers even packed up their children and followed the bus to its stops.

"It was exciting," she said.

The bus began serving the day after school ended in June and provided food until the week before school started in August, serving 6,000 meals. The bus was in Brooksville on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, stopping at the Elks Lodge in south Brooksville and Northside Baptist Church. It was in Spring Hill on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Delta Woods and Pioneers parks.

Transportation director Douglas Compton said use of the bus to serve the meals was a "great idea" and offered: "If she wanted to expand it next year, we'd have no problem expanding it."

HERO TO THE HUNGRY 10/17/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 9:17pm]
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