Chances are you’re familiar with the Lunch Lizard—the brightly painted van that makes its annual appearance every summer outside of local neighborhoods, pools, and parks providing free meals to kiddos around the Grand Valley.
According to Dan Sharp, School District 51’s Director of Food Nutrition Services: “The district has a student population of nearly 22,000 students and close to 45% qualify for free and reduced meals. During the school year, we serve over 10,000 meals a day to these students and we began to ask ourselves—how are the kids that we serve during the school year getting food during the summertime? The concept of mobile meals is not new, but was the right solution to bring healthy food to kids in need right where they live and play.”
The Lunch Lizard was first conceived in 2015, thanks to the leadership of Western Colorado Community Foundation (WCCF) and their thoughtful partnership with District 51 Nutrition Services.
During the first summer of the pilot program, WCCF provided a grant to purchase the first Lunch Lizard and 7,000 meals were served over the course of seven weeks. In 2017, the lunch lizard grew to three trucks serving meals over nine weeks making 15 stops per day and serving over 30,000 meals including breakfast and lunch.
On June 5, 2020, just five years after its creation, the Lunch Lizard announced it will be expanding service to seven days a week by providing to-go weekend meals in addition to breakfast and lunch for youth 18 years and younger. This will mark a milestone for the program as they expect to give out 150,000 meals during this summer break alone.
The Lunch Lizard is a true testament to community partnerships, and Monument Health is proud to support the program and its mission of feeding hungry kids, one neighborhood at a time. Dan Sharp attests: “The Lunch Lizard is working, and students are coming back to school healthy and ready to learn.”