UTA Transit Police served lunch today at two Salt Lake City Ronald McDonald House locations. The effort is part of the department’s mission to give back to the community and extend their service beyond just buses and trains.

The meal service was headed by UTA Transit Police Officer Michael Friant. He and his wife used Ronald McDonald House services in December, when their 17-year-old son was a patient at Primary Children’s Hospital.

What started as an operation to replace an acid reflux control valve turned even more serious, Friant said, as surgeons realized that some of his son’s internal organs had fused to his stomach. Over the next four weeks, he and his wife would trade off time at the hospital so that someone was continually with their teen as he recovered. They took comfort in the ability to enter the Ronald McDonald Family Room and make themselves a meal from the complimentary food in the pantry or enjoy food prepared by volunteer groups. The dining room provided them with a place to relax and visit with other families, Friant said, and also allowed them to save hundreds of dollars that they would have spent in the hospital cafeteria.

“Halfway through our stay, my wife and I both said, ‘This is something we want to come back and do. We wanted to give back,’” Friant said.

The Ronald McDonald House Family Room at Primary Children’s Hospital gives families a place to eat meals, do laundry, shower and spend quiet time together while their child is in the hospital. A separate Ronald McDonald House is located in downtown Salt Lake City and provides families with lodging in addition to meals and other services. Meals at the Primary Children’s Hospital Family Room are free, and lodging at the Ronald McDonald House is provided at low or no cost.

Ronald McDonald House Family Room Manager Kacie Pecor said the meal services help maintain comforting family routines during otherwise stressful times.

“You never see a meal together do as much as it does here,” Pecor said.  

The Utah Transit Police Department participates in frequent volunteer projects like serving dinner to the homeless, providing blankets and clothing to those in need and assisting low income areas of the community. To learn more about UTA Transit Police and UTA’s community service efforts, follow us on our blog, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram