Nutrition Endures for Students During Summer
This was the fifth summer the Seamless Summer Program has been in effect where low-income children can eat nutritious meals when not in school. –Travis Barton
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By Travis Barton | firstname.lastname@example.org
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are the three established meal times each day and Granite School District is making sure lunch is provided for kids throughout the summer.
Granite School District is sponsoring the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Seamless Summer Program which sees free summer meals provided for all children 18 and younger.
Sheldon Moore, Director of Operations, said the percentage of families that qualify for free or reduced meals is over 50% in the Granite School District (GSD).
“We know how difficult it is for families to make ends meet…and we know that just because school is out for the summer, that doesn’t mean hunger stops,” Moore said.
Meals are served at 50 locations, mostly parks and schools, throughout West Valley City, Taylorsville, Kearns, Magna and South Salt Lake. Two locations even offer breakfast. Dinners are set to be offered this coming fall at some schools. The program is meant to provide low-income children nutritious meals during the summer months when school is not in session.
“We knew there was a great need for a lot of those children because they don’t get lunch unless they’re eating lunch at school,” Michelle Berry, Communications Developer for GSD, said. “So we thought that probably means they’re not eating lunch during the summertime either, we need to make sure those kids are getting fed.”
“I just love to see the kids getting good meals, seeing their smiles every day,” Lisel Bergstrom, who works serving at Fitts Park, said.
Meals started being served on June 1 and are offered on weekdays until Aug. 5. Only on July 4 and 24 was the program not in effect. Adults can buy meals for $3.50. School Food Authorities are eligible to apply for the program and once approved by the governing state agency, can serve the meals.
This summer marks the fifth year GSD is running the program. It started out at just a few parks to see if the district could provide a few meals during the summer and expanded from there.
Moore said on average they have served 200,000 meals per summer.
“Kids need healthy food and we can provide this,” Moore said.
Lunch and cafeteria employees who work at the schools throughout the school year supply the serving sites with the necessary hands to serve the food.
“I get to continue working during the summer and I love helping the kids,” Georgia Martin, who also works at Fitts Park, said. “I like working for the schools but my first love is the kids.
The menu is a little different more along the lines of sack lunches or “picnic” lunches.
“They still have the major components they’d have during the normal school year, they’ve got their fruit and vegetables and their main course which includes meat and a bread or a pasta,” Berry said.
Berry said the program has been hugely beneficial for the communities.
“It gets the kids outside and running around with some exercise and playing with friends so it’s social, it’s exercise and we know that they’re eating or at least provided a nutritious meal,” Berry said.
Martin said they’ve served up to 250 people in a day before at the park.
Berry said they’ve gotten lots of positive feedback.
“The parents of course love it because they don’t have to worry about the cost associated with feeding their kids during the summer, they know their kids are getting something nutritious to eat,” Berry said.
That the food holds a nutritional value is extra importance for the health of the kids.
“Even if kids have food at home, if no one prepares it for them it’s gonna be junk food or whatever they can find and that doesn’t always contain the fruits and vegetables and the proteins that they need,” Berry said. “And they’re so essential especially for kids who are learning and growing.”
For more information, go to graniteschools.org.