Kids playing at Lafayette’s LaMont Does Park or the nearby Great Outdoors Waterpark can grab a free boxed lunch through the Boulder Valley School District’s four-day-a-week summer lunch program.
Local school districts are helping keep children fed over the summer — especially those whose families depend on free or reduced-priced lunches during the school year.
Along with adding a park site for the first time this summer at LaMont Does, Boulder Valley provides free breakfasts and hot lunches at four schools with summer school programs.
The free meals are available at the sites to children who aren’t enrolled in the summer school program, but few community children came to those sites, prompting the decision to try a public park, said Stephen Menyhart, Boulder Valley food services operations manager.
“We know that park is a hub for kids in the community,” he said. “We wanted a more open setting where anybody could some and grab a lunch.”
While only a few kids came by for lunch on Monday, the first day, he’s hopeful word of mouth will increase participation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’ssummer program covers the cost of the food, for those younger than 18, while Lafayette is helping with promotion and materials, including a large banner hanging at the park.
“We’re hoping a trickle becomes a stream,” Menyhart said.
The lunches include fruit, veggies and a cold sandwich. This week’s options are a southwestern chicken wrap, ham and cheese sandwich, chicken and ranch wrap and a turkey sandwich.
St. Vrain Valley is in its fourth year of providing lunches to children at parks in Longmont with the help of community partnerships, and it’s second year of operating a site in Erie. The district also provides free breakfast and lunch at schools through the district’s summer learning programs.
“Our participation is really good so far,” said St. Vrain Nutrition Director Shelly Allen. “It’s a great opportunity for us to provide a meal for our kids.”
St. Vrain’s lunches are designed to be portable, picnic-style food and include fresh fruit and vegetables, Allen said. Menu items include hamburgers, hot dogs, crispy chicken sandwiches and turkey subs.
To get the Longmont park program going, the district partnered with the city, and the city’s Children, Youth and Families department secured a $190,000, two-year grant from Kaiser Permanente that has since ended.
The grant paid for adult meals, marketing and activities. Though the grant ended, the city is continuing to support the program.
The city is providing some enrichment activities with help from the Reading League and the library, as well as information about resources in the community. Longmont High School students are leading children’s activities at Rothrock and Carr parks, alternating between the parks each week.
Last year, adults generally had to pay if they wanted to eat a lunch with their kids. This year, the school district raised money to cover the cost of adult meals, allowing adults to also eat for free.
The district also added two Longmont locations this summer, Countryside Village/Casa De La Esperanza and the Kanemoto Wading Pool, where cold sack lunches will be handed out.
In Erie, the school district is partnering with Erie UpLink for a second year to provide free lunches at Coal Miners Park. Erie UpLink provides backpacks of food once a month to struggling families through the town’s schools during the school year, and the organization wanted to continue to support families in the summer. The High Plains Library District also is participating.
If you go
What: St. Vrain Valley summer lunch programWhen/Where: Through July 25 (no lunch July 4 or 5), Monday through ThursdayCarr Park, 1301 21st Ave., Longmont, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.Coal Miner’s Park, 770 Cheesman St., Erie, 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.Countryside Village, 1400S. Collyer St., Longmont, 11:45 a.m.to 12:15 p.m.Longmont Youth Center, 1050 Lashley St., noon to 1 p.m.Rothrock Dell Park, 700 E. Fifth Ave., Longmont, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.Cost: Free
What: Boulder Valley summer lunch program park siteWhen: 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., through July 18, Monday through Thursday (closed week of July 4)Where: LaMont Does Park, 500 E. South Boulder Road, LafayetteCost: Free for 18 and younger
What: Boulder Valley summer lunch program summer school sitesWhen: Today to July 17, Monday through Wednesday (closed week of July 4)Where: Casey Middle School, 1301 High St., Boulder, breakfast 9 to 9:45 a.m., lunch noon to 12:30 p.m.Sanchez Elementary, 655 Sir Galahad Drive, Lafayette, breakfast 8:10 to 8:30 a.m., lunch 10:45 to 11:45 a.m.Crest View Elementary, 1897 Sumac Ave., Boulder, breakfast 8:10 to 8:30 a.m., lunch 10:45 to 11:45 a.m.Whittier Elementary, 2008 Pine St., Boulder, breakfast 8:10 to 8:30 a.m., lunch 10:45 to 11:45 a.m.Cost: Free for 18 and youngerMore info: kidsfoodfinder.org