Public library summer meal programs provide children and teens in low-income communities with free and healthy summer lunches, and summer reading and enrichment programs, to help combat hunger and obesity and prevent summer learning loss.
Lunch at the Library provides library staff with the tools and support they need to develop successful public library summer meal programs. Program staff at the California Library Association and California Summer Meal Coalition:
- connect libraries with meal sponsors (which provide the meals that are served at program sites) and the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (which reimburses meal sponsors for the cost of the meals that are served);
- provide resources, technical assistance, and training on topics such as establishing a program, working with volunteers, providing learning and enrichment programs alongside the meal service, creating partnerships, conducting public relations, engaging families, and obtaining funding;
- conduct program evaluation and maintain statewide data on public library summer meal programs;
- make connections between library summer meal programs and other citywide efforts to address hunger and learning loss, and help to facilitate intergovernmental collaborations to help create a strong out-of-school-time infrastructure; and
- facilitate a statewide network of libraries offering summer meal programs to encourage communication, mentorship, and the sharing of best practices.
Please note: The Lunch at the Library resources represent the viewpoints of CLA and CSMC, and the experiences of those involved with Lunch at the Library, exclusively. Questions regarding USDA summer nutrition program policies and procedures should always be directed to the state agency administering the program or USDA.