Lunch Lizard free summer lunch program has been extended (video)
LUNCH LIZARD SCHEDULE
Duck Pond Park — Santa Clara Avenue — 11-11:20 a.m.
Linden Pointe Apartments — 1975 Barcelona Way — 11:25-11:45 a.m.
Dos Rios Elementary — 265 Linden Ave. — 11:50 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
Racquet Club Apartments — 2915 Orchard Ave. — 1-1:20 p.m.
Lincoln Park — 1340 Gunnison Ave. —1:45-2:30 p.m.
This summer, children under the age of 18 can receive a free, nutritional meal thanks to a collaboration between Mesa County Valley School District 51 and Western Colorado Community Foundation (WCCF).
Several grants, which allowed for summer programming and free student lunches, recently expired. WCCF saw a gap after brainstorming with District 51 and then decided to help by donating $50,000 to purchase a food truck. WCCF has also been a key player in coordinating volunteers from AmeriCorps to run the truck.
Now the Lunch Lizard food truck visits low-income neighborhoods throughout Grand Junction and offers free lunches to children. Participating kids do not need to be District 51 students, nor do they need to register or have ID. Lunch services will run Monday through Thursday until July 16, and the only requirement is that children stay on premises to ensure they are receiving meals.
“The intent is to have kids come back ready for learning in the fall,” said Dan Sharp, District 51’s director of nutritional services. “So far it has exceeded our expectations.”
Since its inception, which started on June 1, the Lunch Lizard food truck has served an average of 150 children at five locations including Duck Pond Park in Orchard Mesa, Linden Pointe Apartments in Orchard Mesa, Dos Rios Elementary School in Orchard Mesa, Racquet Club Apartments in Grand Junction, and Lincoln Park in Grand Junction. Meals are provided by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program. If the program is deemed a success, meals will continue a few weeks into July as well.
Sharp hopes next summer there will be a second food truck.
“This is a fun way for kids to access food,” Sharp said, “especially needy children; and that’s the intent with the foundation.”
Jessica Urban, a Grand Junction resident and mother of three, has participated at the food truck’s Linden Pointe stop every day since it started. She also helps round up the kids each day for the meals.
“I didn’t realize that, in my community, we needed such a service,” she said. “It’s fun for all the kids to come gather every day and eat.”
According to Sharp, it is estimated that 9,000 District 51 students qualify for free or reduced lunches. WCCF is concerned with how those children will receive meals during the summer months.
“We are looking into the surrounding six counties to expand [services] and reach as many hungry kids as we can,” said Jody Valente, WCCF’s program associate.
She also mentioned that Kids Aid will provide backpacks on Thursdays at Lunch Lizard stops. Kids Aid is a program that provides meals for children who would otherwise go hungry on weekend days.
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