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Sunshine Food Bus releases schedule for summer meals
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Sunshine Food Bus releases schedule for summer meals

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Landrum

Lisa Landrum was a driving force behind Goochland’s Sunshine Food Bus

Several years ago, when Goochland County Public Schools’ supervisor of nutrition services Lisa Landrum hit upon a solution for providing nutritious meals to local students in need during the summer months, she knew her first step would be to get all of the other people who would need to be involved in the project on board.

And, in this case, that meant literally.

Landrum’s plan, to turn a decommissioned GCPS bus into a kitchen on wheels, meant that she and her staff would be able to visit local neighborhoods and ensure that those who might otherwise struggle with hunger could have access to warm and healthy meals. And while Landrum faced a number of hurdles in her quest to get the project up and running, it has now been an invaluable community resource since 2019.

Sunshine Food Bus:

-All Children Ages 2-18 eat free of charge.

-Adult meals may be purchased at a discounted price.

-An extra meal will be sent home Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for the weekends.

The Sunshine Food Bus Summer Schedule will be June 21 - July 29 (The bus will not run on July 5, an extra meal will be provided on July 1)

The schedule is as follows:

-Grace Episcopal Church Parking Lot - 2955 River Road West, Goochland, Monday – Thursday 10:30 a.m.– 11:15 a.m.

-Jerusalem Baptist Church Parking Lot - 994 Three Chopt Road, Manakin-Sabot, Monday – Thursday 11:35 a.m.– 12:20 p.m.

-Second Union Baptist Church Parking Lot - 2843 Hadensville – Fife Road, Goochland, Monday – Thursday 1 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.

Note: Curbside meal pickup will continue at GHS bus loop every Wednesday from 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.

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An effort by a local church to get into the restaurant business is not sitting will with its neighbors, and now it will be up to county supervisors to decide whether or not to allow the project to move forward.

On July 8, Hope Church’s plan to create a café-style eating establishment within their current church building, located at 12445 Patterson Ave., went before county Planning Commissioners. And while the new venture was described by pastor David Dwight as a simple, small-scale project intended to offer coffee and café-style fare with limited cooking, several county residents living near the church say they already feel like they’ve been burned.

As detailed in the church’s request for an amendment to its original Conditional Use Permit (CUP), opening the planned café and coffee shop would require some renovation to the existing structure — and the installation of commercial kitchen equipment--but no modifications to the outside of the church. Kitchen renovations will not be permitted to include the installation of a hood system for ventilation, which will limit the type of cooking that can be done and also prevent any odors from impacting nearby properties.

According to the request, the church will be entering into an agreement with the owners of Toast, who also own other dining establishments in the area and are members of the church, to create and operate the coffee shop and café.

Dwight explained that the café would not be run as a for-profit enterprise, although the church leadership’s goal would be to break even if possible. If necessary, Dwight said, the church would be willing to provide a reasonable amount of support to the café.

According to Dwight, the project would rely on microwaves and small convection ovens to reheat pre-prepared foods, and would not be expected to see numbers even close to the 75 occupants that would be allowed under the CUP. Above all, he insisted, the café would offer “a place for people to gather together, especially after COVID, without the pressure of a commercially driven enterprise.”

But while Dwight described the café as “a ministry that welcomes people in,” those living near the church have made clear the church is already beginning to wear its own welcome thin.

Several residents of the Rivergate neighborhood, which is located directly adjacent to Hope Church, said they are already dealing with significant noise issues stemming from church-related activities, including the use of what they described as bullhorns and “nightclub-style” thumping music.

It has made it impossible to enjoy the tranquility they had been seeking when they moved to the neighborhood, they said, adding that the problem is worse during the fall and winter when there are no leaves on the trees.

“In my opinion the church is more an events space than a church,” said Rob Allen, who lives directly across the street from the church. “They are holding these events in their parking lot. So this restaurant may be serving inside but it may be serving inside while there are events outside that is supporting. So 75 limit? They can count the 1,000 people in the parking lot and say there is only 60 inside and they are still within compliance.”

Allen said he had already called the Sheriff’s Department once, and “I will continue to call them when the noises are too much to bear.”

Ileana Shulman told commissioners that she finds the claim that the church will be selling essentially just “cookies and coffee” difficult to believe, and agreed with several other residents that allowing the café would only exacerbate existing noise issues.

While the ultimate decision on whether to approve the church’s request rests with the Board of Supervisors, Planning Commissioners appeared to hear residents’ concerns loud and clear.

“Obviously there is a great deal of opposition to this,” said District 2 Commissioner Matt Brewer. “I don’t see how we could recommend approval.”

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