Libraries help keep kids reading over the summer. Did you know that many libraries may also be able to help keep kids eating over the summer? During the school year, many children receive free lunches at school, but these children still need a place to eat during the summer.
The USDA offers the Summer Food Service Program, which works to ensures that “low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session.” Since libraries are already hosting summer reading programs, as summer feeding program is a great partnership opportunity if you are in an area that is eligible to participate. You can use this map to identify if you are in an eligible area.
Many libraries may be thinking, “Great idea! But how on earth do you expect us to manage this as well as a summer reading program?” However, while your level of involvement can vary, at the basic level you are offering kids a place to be fed, not preparing meals yourself.
The Grand Forks Public Library is one of the feeding sites sponsored by St. Joseph’s Social Care in Grand Forks this summer. Lunch will take place on the lawn. A couple times each week, library staff will read stories to the children as well. You can find more participating sites in North Dakota.
To help you get started, the USDA Summer Food Service site has many resources, including a toolkit. For more North Dakota specific information about the program, visit the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction Summer Food Service Program site.
Is this an opportunity in your community? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments!