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The City Journals

Kids eat free at Granite School District summer lunch program

Jun 17, 2019 10:30AM ● By Jess Nielsen Beach

Children are handed sack lunches as part of the Seamless Summer lunch program organized by Granite School District. (Jess Nielsen Beach/City Journals)

By Jess Nielsen Beach | [email protected]

School may be out for summer, but kids around the valley are invited to get a hot lunch every weekday from June 3 to Aug. 9 at any of the 43 serving stations around West Valley, Salt Lake, Magna, Kearns and Taylorsville. It’s all part of Granite School District’s Seamless Summer lunch program. 

“I just love this,” Jill Wilkins said. “I hate making lunch, especially if we’ve just come home and everyone’s cranky.” Wilkins, a local resident, has two children. “I can make breakfast and dinner just fine, but lunch is the worst. Coming here during the week is just so easy.”

Monday through Friday, the district has meals delivered to various parks and schools around the valley. One of the most popular locations is Robert Frost Elementary, with as many as 100 children coming for food every day.

One of the servers, Laura Mathisen, also works as a lunch lady for Cyprus High. 

“I’ve been here for several years,” Mathisen said. “The food truck comes every morning and I estimate how much we’ll need for the day. I usually order around 110 lunches and we get close to it every time.”

It isn’t just elementary-age children who enjoy the program.

“I actually came to this as a teen,” said Chanda Moeller, a mother of three. “I remember it more when I was high school age. My mom would take us over to a nearby park and we’d get free lunch.”

It has become a tradition for those who have stayed close to home. 

“I kind of forgot about it when I grew up and moved on,” Moeller said. “But then last year I was at Valley Regional Park with my kids and saw them setting up. That’s when I remembered the program. We happened to be at the right place at the right time.”

Children and teens aren’t the only ones who can receive a meal. Adults are welcome to purchase food for a discounted $3.50.

“The chicken sandwich is a favorite,” Mathisen said. “It isn’t that fake stuff; it’s grilled chicken that’s been breaded. The kids love it.”

Many of the sites have open grassy areas, playgrounds and shade trees.

“I love this one because they have two playgrounds,” Chloe Beach said of the Robert Frost location. She’s a third grader who comes often with her mom and sisters. “I like playing with my friends after we eat our food.”

This year, some locations have started packaging lunches in sacks instead of serving it on plates. This cuts down on litter and makes it easier for children to clean up any garbage. Although it can be a bit more work, the servers are happy to do it.

“It’s nice to see kids take advantage of this program,” Mathisen said. “Come on down. Kids eat free until age 18. Even if you’ve graduated, if you’re 18, you can eat.”

The Seamless Summer program schedule is available online on the school district’s website, www.graniteschools.org. Each lunch period is one hour long and food is required to be eaten onsite. Families are invited to come early and enjoy a nice day outdoors with their kids and neighbors.