It’s the real magic school bus!
Ayesha and Stephen Curry have a new bus that’s feeding and teaching children in Oakland, California, NBC News reports.
The Currys are back at it again, this time debuting a new Eat.Learn.Play. Bus that will teach, feed and engage youth around Oakland’s under-resourced communities. Their Eat.Learn.Play foundation has previously done a ton of community work in the Bay Area, partnering with No Kid Hungry to end childhood hunger in the U.S. and with the Oakland Unified School District to feed students during the pandemic. Now, the two are promoting their new mobile.
The Eat.Learn.Play. Bus is a brightly colored converted school bus courtesy of custom food truck builder Cruising Kitchens. One side functions as a food truck with the other side serving as a library. There are three flat screen televisions, a booming sound system, a bus rooftop that can fit 35 children, custom murals from local Oakland artists and of course, a basketball hoop.
Photo Courtesy of Cruising Kitchens
“This idea came basically from me wanting to find a way to eradicate food deserts within the Oakland area. At first, the idea was around, ‘How can we find locations where people can come and pick up fresh produce and other things for their families?’ Logistically, especially with COVID, that idea started to seem far-fetched,” Ayesha explained.
It was Eat.Learn.Play. Foundation President and CEO Chris Helfrich who eventually pitched the idea of a bus. The Currys loved the idea and began to find ways to incorporate the foundations three pillars of healthy eating, fun learning and active playing into the design. What resulted was more than they could imagine. Now the plan is to use the larger than life bus to visit local schools, providing complimentary hot food, fresh produce and books to children and families.
In Alameda County alone, almost 42 percent of children qualify for free or reduced lunch. Black children in Oakland are also four times more likely to read below their grade level in comparison to white students, statistics that show a startling reality for youth in these areas.
“That, to me, is unacceptable. It’s not the teacher’s fault. It’s not the parents’ fault. It’s a community issue. Let’s get together, give this model a try and see if we can create some excitement around reading. If we can all join together and try to fix the issue together and turn these numbers around, then I think we’re doing something right,” Ayesha said.
The foundation will use the bus to host pop up events, screenings, clinics, and other health-related activities. Since 2009, when Steph Curry was drafted to the Golden State Warriors, Oakland has been home for the Currys. When the team moved to San Francisco in 2019, the NBA star vowed to stay rooted in the community that had adopted him. Giving back in this way is not only a token of his appreciation, but something he feels duty bound to do. Steph spoke about his journey to creating the foundation.
“It’s kind of surreal. We have been a part of a lot of organizations and charities and initiatives from the time we got out here that have done some amazing work. I was working with projects on ending malaria and supporting military families. She was doing things toward ending hunger and working with other amazing organizations...We got to the point: ‘How can we align all the stars and bring the entire focus and team together to do something that will sustain the test of time and not be about us, but be through us,” he said.
“Hopefully, what we are doing is an amazing case study of the power of a cohesive team of talented people that have hearts of gold that can do amazing things. We know we’re blessed to work together, but we know the success comes from the team and the leadership that we have,” Steph added.
The Currys’ plan is to let the bus roll where it may, listening to the community to see how they may be best served. Cathay Adams, president and CEO of the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce applauded the couple's efforts.
“They are rooted in Oakland, even though the team has moved. And it’s heartening to see an NBA star and his successful wife in her own right use their platform for good. Over the years they have shown a commitment to Oakland in general, but especially to neighborhoods where kids need to be impacted more, neighborhoods that have been compromised by systemic racism,” said Adams.
Follow the Eat.Learn.Play bus on Instagram @eatlearnplay to see where it will show up next!
Photo Courtesy of @EatLearnPlay/Instagram