In the simplest sense, food brings people together. Library summer meal programs provide an opportunity to strengthen existing community partnerships and help build new ones. Partners can help libraries introduce families to community resources, offer programming to complement the meal service, provide food for the adults who accompany children to the meal service, find meal service volunteers, provide funds to support the program, and more.

The meal service can connect public libraries with school districts or local community-based organizations and strengthen collaboration with other city and county agencies or special districts. It also provides a great opportunity to engage community leaders and highlight the library’s role as a community hub. Click here to help you identify community assets and potential partnership opportunities. Some examples include:

    • Adult schools
    • After school program
    • Arts organizations and museums
    • Bookstores
    • Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs, and scouting groups
    • Businesses and corporations — local, state, and national
    • Caregivers and nannies
    • Clinics and hospitals
    • Colleges and universities
    • Community centers
    • Community clinics, Kaiser Permanente, Red Cross
    • Community colleges
    • Faith-based organizations
    • Farmers and Farmers’ Markets
    • Festivals
    • Food banks
    • Movie theaters
    • Parents’ groups
    • Parks and Recreation — local, state, and national
    • Police, Fire, and Sanitation departments
    • Police explorer program
    • Public Health departments
    • Public housing
    • Public utilities
    • Rotaries and service organizations
    • Schools
    • Science organizations and museums
    • Senior centers
    • Shelters
    • Social service agencies
    • Sports teams, major, minor, college, and kids
    • Summer camps
    • State parks
    • Transit authorities
    • Youth commissions

“A mom came up to me toward the end of lunch and told me that she’s been worried because her 7-year-old son doesn’t love to read. She can’t understand not loving to read and she’s been wondering how to encourage him in that regard. Well, she had him screened today and [it turns out he] has vision issues. So it’s quite possible that he’s not interested in reading because he has trouble seeing the words clearly. She was so grateful for the Vision to Learn program and kept thanking us — with tears in her eyes — for what we are doing at the library.”–Sacramento Public Library

As many cities and counties work towards recovery from years of recession, library summer meal programs provide an opportunity to collaborate and pool resources. Through these partnerships, libraries can help build stronger communities, better serve children and their families, and create new advocates for their work.