With only 1 in 6 eligible children and teens receiving free lunches during the summer,1 there is a clear and urgent need to establish more summer meal sites that are accessible and popular with children, teens, and families.
The Lunch at the Library program has demonstrated that public libraries are natural spaces for serving meals to children and teens whose access to lunch and learning opportunities disappears when school ends and summer begins:
- Public libraries welcome everyone; they are accessible community spaces in the heart of the neighborhood.
- Public libraries are trusted spaces and families feel comfortable coming to the library for lunch.
- Public libraries have the capacity to provide programming alongside the meal service. Public library summer programming encourages and enables children and teens to set reading goals, engages them in activities that extend the reading experience, and connects them with librarians who can help guide their reading choices and become positive role models.
- Public libraries provide opportunities for teens to develop workforce readiness skills by serving as program volunteers.
- Public libraries provide opportunities for youth to engage with positive role models.
- Public libraries provide access to resources that support the community’s lifelong needs, and library staff can connect families who participate in the meal service with essential services and resources.
- “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status Report,” Food Research and Action Center, June 2016, accessed August 26, 2016, http://frac.org/pdf/2016_summer_nutrition_report.pdf