Summer Lunch at the Library will only be successful if the children and families in your community know about the program. CDE provides a list of all summer meal sites in California to the National Hunger Hotline, a toll-free phone number families can call to locate food assistance (1-866-3 HUNGRY or 1-866-348-6479). In addition, libraries will be required to display information about the site visible to the public.

Opportunities to raise awareness of your program are included below, along with information about providing food or information about obtaining food for adults alongside the children and teens’ meal service.

Raising Awareness of Your Program

  • Businesses. Provide flyers to local businesses, especially places where people gather, e.g. laundromats, childcare providers.
  • Community groups and individuals: Provide information to community leaders including faith leaders, city officials, and other key influencers; extend personal invitations to communities who may be harder to reach; host or participate in a big summer meal kick off event to draw attention to the program; put out lawn signs; offer the opportunity for opt-in text messaging; put flyers in grocery stores; attend resource fairs; promote through food banks and food pantries; reach out to tribal communities; conduct outreach to faith-based organizations; Chamber of Commerce meetings; invite local celebrities to the program; provide information at community festivals, concerts, and other events; provide information for parks and recreation brochures; hand out information at the local Farmers’ Market.
  • Homes: Create door hangers promoting the program and hang them on the doors in the neighborhood; visit low income apartments and housing.
  • Information services: Get the program included in your local 211 service.
  • Library: Put out flyers promoting the service in the library; hang a banner promoting the program outside the library; during the summer lunch period, when the food is served, make announcements and go around the library letting kids and teens know. Some need a personal invitation to feel comfortable participating; design and put out menus as a way of creating a cafe environment, promoting the program, and letting families know what meals will be served.
  • Meal sponsors: Provide information about the library to your meal provider so that they can also promote library events and programs.
  • Media: Send press releases to local media; invite them to come and cover the program; contact all free, local newspapers.
  • Medical and Social Service Agencies: share information about your site with local WIC and social service agencies, legal aid clinics, those providing services to migrant families; visit homeless shelters to let families know about the program; put out flyers and displays in waiting rooms; partner with health and community fairs; provide information at healthy cities meetings.
  • Schools: Ask school principals to send flyers and notes home promoting the program before school lets out for summer break; take advantage of district text messages or email blasts; submit information for newsletter and robocalls; place information on school buses; invite the school newspaper to do a story on the program; promote the program with the after school providers.
  • Social media: Use Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to engage youth and their families.
  • Sports: Partner with sports teams–major, minor, college, and kids’.
  • Transit: Use buses and subways to advertise the program.
  • Youth organizations: Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs, scouting groups
  • Create program flyers and calendars (or ask your teen volunteers to create them) and send them to local schools, community partners, and the places frequented by families in your community. Sample flyers from:

Glen Avon Regional Library, Riverside County Library System: Glen Avon flyer 2016
Fresno County Public Library: Fresno flyer 2013
Sacramento Public Library: and Sacramento flyer 2013

  • Remember to tailor your message depending on who you want to reach, e.g. children, parents and caregivers, community leaders.
  • Also, if you’re concerned about being overwhelmed by too many participants in your first year, you could conduct very limited publicity efforts until you find out what the demand will be.
  • Encourage colleagues, leaders, and those working with low-income families to download Range, a mobile application to locate summer meal sites.
  • Don’t Forget! Be sure that staff have a clear understanding of your library’s photo release policy. Also, be sensitive to the language used in disseminating photos or press releases so that it focuses more on this as “feeding kids in the community” rather than language that may be stigmatizing.

The promotion and publicity was great. We had a wonderful response from the media; we were highlighted in various news outlets, both in print and on tv. The media promotion helped draw people to the program and create an understanding of why we were offering a lunch program.”