Joe Brislen can name all six Lunch Bus sites on the West Suburban route and how busy the sites are. He can also tell you how the route has changed over the past five years.
“I am just the driver,” Joe said. “I follow the directions of the AmeriCorps members.”
But Joe does more than drive the Lunch Bus.
“He is a very calm, relaxed driver, which helps because the day is fast-paced,” said Imani Evans, AmeriCorps Lunch Bus associate. “But beyond that, he is always asking how he can help, which goes a long way.”
Joe said he started volunteering at the Food Depository after he retired in 2011. He started by working on the dock.
“I wanted to do something and feeding people is about as good as it gets. And I didn’t say no quick enough when they asked me to drive,” Joe joked.
As a retired school teacher, he quickly shifted his focus to the Lunch Bus because he missed helping out kids.
“You see kids who need a consistent meal, and I like to see that the kids and parents know that they have got something,” he said.
Since Joe started driving, he has seen everything from the sites to the meals evolve.
“The meals used to be less varied,” Joe said. “But now, the Food Depository has made sure the kids really love the meals. That makes our jobs easier.”
Mainly, Joe enjoys directly giving back to the community.
“The day just has so much variety,” Joe said. “It goes by quick, and you feel like you are helping.”