SUU Teams with Community to Provide Summer Meals to Local Families

Published: June 15, 2021 | Author: David Bishop | Read Time: 3 minutes

Iron County summer lunch programHaving a healthy lunch during the summer can be difficult for some local families, but thanks to Southern Utah University and the Community Presbyterian Church (CPC) over 500 children in Iron County have access to nutritious lunches daily. The program began 14 years ago when a state-wide non-profit organization, Utahns Against Hunger, approached Iron County to find a capable entity to apply for the USDA grant and develop the program. The CPC applied for the USDA grant and solely ran the program for the first couple of years. As the program grew, a new partnership developed with SUU.

Nutrition students from SUU have found internships in this program particularly valuable, including Sarah Teare, a senior nutrition major from West Jordan, UT. "This real life experience is a fantastic way to put my academic knowledge to work. I am happy to be engaged in my community and use my education to help combat food insecurities.” Sarah will pursue a registered dietitian nutritionist career after graduating.

Additionally, the Community Engagement Center provides SUU volunteers once a week to conduct recreational activities with the children. "With over 400 children at the park, it is great to keep them active and moving," says student Service Leader Beks Winward, a senior nutrition major from Orem, Utah. "We provide games and fun activities every Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m."

Nancy Pearson, pastor at Community Presbyterian Church praises Southern Utah University for stepping up to the plate with support. "As our congregation ages, the support from SUU has been essential to continuing this very needed program. We love having the SUU students help prepare and serve the lunches."

Lunch is served Mondays through Fridays at two locations in Iron County. At Cedar City's Main St. Park they are served from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. and at Enoch Elementary School they are served from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Lunch is served on a first-come-first-served basis to anyone under 18 years old. Adults can purchase lunch for $2.00.

Last year and continuing this year, the COVID pandemic allowed for a waiver that allows parents to pick up lunches for their children and take them home. "Typically, the lunches must be eaten at the park, but this is a great opportunity for those who may not be able to come in person,” states Evelyn Gomez, SUU MPA student and coordinator of the program this year.

Most of the SUU coordination of the program rests with the Utah Center for Rural Health. Executive Director Rita Osborn commented that "Iron County consistently ranks lower than many counties when it comes to food insecurity. This program is a win, win, win as children have access to nutritious food and SUU students can truly make a difference, plus learn about how to apply concepts they are learning at university."

In addition to SUU and the CPC, the Utah State University Extension program provides interns for the program while the Iron County Bookmobile makes weekly visits to provide educational opportunities, making the program a true community partnership.

For more information, updated menus and more - refer to their social media at or contact Osborn at 435-865-8520.

Tags: Center for Rural Health Community

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