Adults may not be served free meals through USDA summer meal programs because of the program’s exclusive focus on children and youth. Sometimes, this creates discomfort in neighborhoods where the parents/caregivers of the children being served are likely also food insecure. Explore with your sponsor whether additional funding sources or partnerships can help support food for parents/caregivers, if you anticipate this as an issue in your community. Some possibilities:
- Find out whether your sponsor, local food bank or grocery store can secure donated produce to offer adults;
- Seek grant funding to pay for adult meals (adult meals must be tracked separately);
- Engage a local business to sponsor adult meals;
- Make available information on other places in the community where adults can receive free food;
- Display program rules clearly in the languages used in the community to help with messaging;
- Enforce rules consistently so that people become used to them;
- Explain that if the rules are broken the library may lose the program.
Some sponsors allow parents to be program volunteers, and receive a meal. These “program adult” meals are not reimbursable meals but may be included in the sponsor’s program operation costs. Maintaining program integrity is paramount and consideration of this option must occur only if integrity would not be compromised and if the sponsor allows this option.
Food safety, people safety
At the site training, your sponsor will provide detailed information about adhering to local, state, and federal food and health safety standards. For the safety of the children and to maintain site and sponsor integrity, it is imperative that compliance with these standards be rigorous and exactly as the sponsor demonstrated in the training. Failure to comply can result in the site being closed down or jeopardize the sponsor’s ability to operate the program. In some communities, the health inspector may visit sites.