'They're getting on the bus hungry'- Milford school bus drivers organize food drive

MILFORD — School bus driver Jen Miller often sees kids get on her bus in the morning hungry.

This simple observation is what motivated her to organize a food drive with bus dispatcher Alexis Black. The drive, called Durham School Services of Milford’s Stuff-A-Bus, has been going strong for 10 years.

As part of the drive, for seven hours on Saturday, Durham workers and high school students stood outside of ShopRite, asking for food donations, which will feed Milford families who are struggling.

All donations from the food drive were donated to the Milford Food Bank on Jepson Drive. The drive annually results in about $10,000 worth of donations.

“Whoever is in need of food will contact the Milford Food Bank, who will make up food boxes for them,” said Black. All the food at the food bank is free.

Miller said the Food Bank has had people coming in every day since the pandemic started.

“This year, there was really a need because the food bank is really empty,” she said.

While the Milford Food Bank usually creates a list of food for shoppers to purchase at ShopRite, this year, they didn’t.

“This year, we’re in such need of everything. We’re trying to get people to buy cereals, milk, macaroni, snack and lunch items, and hams and turkeys,” Black said.

Some people donate cash, and then when the food collection is over, the two go inside and buy whatever is still needed, she said.

Black and Miller first got the idea for the food drive many years ago after seeing how many hungry kids there were riding the buses, according to Miller, who has driven a bus for the past 11 years.

“Our thought process behind it, and it still is to this day, is our bus drivers drive these kids every day. These are our kids. We fall in love with these kids,” she said.

“We see that their families struggle and some kids don’t have food and they don’t eat and they’re getting on the bus hungry,” she said. “Seeing their families struggle is heartbreaking, so anything we can do to try to help, we will.”

The Milford Food Bank is used by people of all ages. Most people shop there once a week, Black said. The benefit to supporting the Food Bank is that the help remains in the community, she said.

“Everything stays in Milford to help Milford families,” she said.