Tag Archives: food

Summer Food Service Programs at North Dakota Libraries

GF lunchDuring the school year, many children receive free lunches at school. When school lets out for the summer, that often means kids go hungry. That’s where the USDA Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) steps in. During the summer, any child ages 0-18 can eat lunch a SFSP site. Public libraries make ideal sites, since they are natural gathering places for children during summer reading programs! As a meal service site, libraries do not prepare the food, they simply offer a place for children to eat.

This year, two North Dakota libraries were involved in the SFSP. The Grand Forks Public Library SFSP site is sponsored by the St. Joseph’s Social Care and Thrift Store. They served lunch Monday through Friday for eight weeks. The  Grand Forks Public Library has participated as SFSP site for two years. The Morton Mandan Public Library participated as a site for the first time this year. Lunch was served in Dykshoorn Park Monday through Friday for nine weeks.

Morton Mandan lunch at the library

First Lady Betsy Dalrymple helped kick off of the program by reading to the kids and giving away books provided by the United Way.

Linda Austin, Children’s Program Coordinator at The Morton Mandan Public Library, also organized 34 programs to tie in to this year’s summer reading theme. “Lunch with Heroes” featured different heroes from the community, and included the Fire Department, Police Department, National Guard, nurses, doctors, Humane Society, musicians, crafters, gymnasts, and many more. Heroes provided a short program that highlighted their role in the community. On average, 77 children attended each program. First Lady Betsy Dalrymple also participated by reading to the children and giving away books provided by the United Way. To learn more about the program in Mandan, check out the article in the Bismarck Tribune.

 Morton Mandan lunch at the library

“Dreams in Motion” gave the kids an opportunity to play wheelchair basketball.

Morton Mandan lunch at the library

“READ” therapy pets who read with the kids for the Reading Tails Program.

For information on the importance of the SFSP program, and to learn what libraries in other states are doing, check out the article “Eat Up! 5 Public Libraries’ Successful Summer Meals Programs.”  To learn more about getting involved in the SFSP in North Dakota, visit the Department of Public Instruction’s Child Nutrition & Food Distribution website. We would love to see more libraries participate!

Food Allergies in the Library

Girl Eating Peanut Butter Sandwich According to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), one out of every 13 children has a food allergy. Thus, you likely have a child with a food allergy attending programming at your library.

Ninety percent of all reactions are caused by the following eight foods: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. In addition to allergies, many people are also gluten intolerant. While you are probably not serving seafood as a story time snack, it is important to take seriously the severity of food allergies, since the only way to prevent a reaction is to avoid those foods and even trace amounts can be fatal. Continue reading


Young Father Pouring Milk into Bowl of Cereal for Young Boy (6-8)Recently we discussed how libraries can participate in the USDA Summer Food Service Program. If you are interested in other ways the library can encourage a healthy lifestyle, check out EatPlayGrow, a curriculum developed by the Children’s Museum of Manhattan in partnership with the National Institutes of Health in order “to teach children ages 6 and younger and their adult caregivers how to make healthy nutrition and physical activity choices.”

When you download the EatPlayGrow curriculum, don’t be overwhelmed by the length of the document. You can skip right to section 2, where you’ll find 11 lesson plans, each of which include an outline of everything you’ll need to run a successful story time about making healthy choices. There are suggested books, snack ideas, art activities, and physical activities.  There are also handouts for the caregivers to take home.

What are some ways you already encourage healthy behaviors through story time? Share your ideas in the comments!

ETA: The Bismarck Public Library has partnered with Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health to host an EatPlayGrow series this summer.

Summer Food in the Library

Girl Eating Peanut Butter Sandwich 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!