Today is Saturday, July 22, 2017

Neon Party in the Park

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On any given day, the Neon Bus can be found traveling through town.

Its mission? Providing children under the age of 18, or who are in school, with a nutritious, free meal in an air-conditioned bus that is more reminiscent of a 1950s diner than a vehicle that once transported students to and from school.

Beth Petty, with the Lebanon Special School District's Family Resource Center, said that while they've aimed to feed kids during the school year this was the first time the Neon Bus has hit the streets.

"We had a small food program in the summertime before. Then Angie Ballard applied for federal funding and got that," Petty said of Neon's origins.

Through the grant and community support, a decommissioned LSSD bus was transformed into "Neon."

"Angie and her team prepare the food each day and take it out into the community," Petty added. The team includes: Pam McPeak, Alexandrea Mofield, Rhonda Richie, Nell Haynes, Christine Johnson, Carmen Holmes, Toni Buchanan, Shawnie Oberholtzer, Debbie Spencer and Lynne Jordan.

Neon makes numerous stops each day, serving about 250 kids.

A Neon Party in the Park was held at Don Fox Park in Lebanon on Tuesday to celebrate the success.

At press time, Petty did not have official numbers; however, she said they were thrilled with the turnout. Hundreds of families came out to enjoy the day.

Neon will continue feeding local kids for two more weeks.

Petty said they are also grateful to their "Hometown Heroes" - partners like the Wilson County Sheriff's Office, Lebanon Police Department and Wilson Emergency Management Agency to name a few - who brought out teams to help cook at the party and vehicles that attendees could tour.

"The fire department brought a fire truck which was a hit," she said.

"Our celebration was bigger and better thanks to our community partners. We thank them for the many services they provide to our students and their families." said Scott Benson, LSSD Director of Schools.

In addition to their scheduled stops, the Neon Bus provided free meals to kids enrolled in the Lebanon Police Department's Youth Academy and the Summer Arts Academy held at the Market Street Community Center.

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