ALMA, Ariz. — Alma School District literacy curriculum specialist Jami Balkman and Alma Intermediate School library media specialist Melinda Bailey started the Airedale Book Express in 2012.
It’s a bus that travels neighborhoods within the school district limits of Alma. The route started in the summer and allows kids to check out books once the bus has pulled into their neighborhood.
The two teachers said they saw a greater need.
“We were going out in the community and doing the book mobile where kids could get a treat or prize if they returned their books the next time we came around. One day we threw some granola bars in there and they were gone,” Balkman said.
The program soon took on handing out free lunches to anyone under the age of 18, through the National School Lunch Seamless Summer Program.
Now, the route provides books and a free lunch to more than 200 kids, three days a week.
The route is currently covering 100 square miles per run.