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July 28, 2015 - Lunch at the (Sonoma County) Library
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We’d been considering Lunch at the Library for some time, when out of the blue, the local food bank called.  The Redwood Empire Food Bank in Sonoma County has been coordinating free summer lunches for kids to the over 30,000 children who qualify for free and subsidized lunches during the school year.  In April, they rang the library to ask if we would be interested in participating in Lunch at the Library.

In less than a month, we had a plan to roll out our first ever lunch program at six of our eleven locations, and hit the ground running on June 9.  Within the first two weeks, we cumulatively served 453 lunches, all while balancing 5,604 Summer Reading sign-ups.  Our busiest lunch location, the Petaluma Library, is now serving 30-40 lunches, five days a week!

Not only do we relish serving hungry kids healthy, locally-grown food while grateful parents look on, but we’re also feeling nourished by some of the great interactions we get to have with volunteers for the program.  One of the highlights of the week at the Central Library is a group that calls themselves the Wednesday Lunch Bunch. 

This group of seniors from the Vineyard Commons Retirement Community dons aprons every week, not only serving lunches to kids who come for the program, but also rounding up other kids in the library to eat.  Mel stands faithfully by with his clicker, counting every kid who comes through the line.  Ardie loves the chance to give back to the library, since she’s been coming here for almost 80 years.  We love hearing her tell about her first grade trips to the Carnegie library that originally sat on the current Central Library site, including reminiscences about the children’s librarian for whom our Children’s Room is now named, Miss Dagny Juell.

Hosting Lunch at the Library has enabled us to strengthen partnerships with other local organizations, allowed deep individual relationships to blossom, and most important of all, helped to address the one-in-five kids that otherwise go hungry every day in Sonoma County.  We’re fed by this.

Rebecca Forth
Sonoma County Library



Photo, courtesy of the Sonoma County Gazette