Lunch at the Library is keeping California's kids healthy, fed, and engaged during the summer months when school is out.
For many children in low-income communities, the stability and nutrition offered by the lunches they get at school ends when school lets out for summer vacation. Summer meal programs help combat childhood hunger and obesity when school is out by providing free, healthy meals to children in low-income neighborhoods.
The California Summer Meal Coalition (CSMC) and California Library Association (CLA) are working with libraries across California to offer summer meals and programming designed to provide nourishment and help prevent summer learning loss for children and teens in low-income communities.
Libraries are natural spaces for serving meals to children whose access to lunch disappears when school ends and summer begins. Libraries are community spaces in the heart of the neighborhood. They welcome all and they provide access, free of charge, to resources that support the community’s lifelong needs. Furthermore, public library summer reading programs encourage and enable children and teens to set reading goals, engage them in activities that extend the reading experience, and connect youth with librarians who can help guide their reading choices and become positive role models and adult influences in their lives.
By serving meals and offer complementary literacy programs during the summer, our program is feeding children during the summer and engaging low-income families with their local public library: the one free community space that sustains democracy, levels the playing field, values the individual, nourishes creativity, opens young minds, builds community, supports families, builds technology skills, and offers sanctuary—all free of charge to the user.
Lunch at the Library is a project of the California Library Association and California Summer Meal Coalition and is funded by a grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
Photo courtesy of Alameda County Community Food Bank, City of Oakland Human Services, and Oakland Public Library.