Lunch at the Library provides children and teens with free summer meals, summer reading programs, and other activities that support learning, health, and wellness. It brings new families to the library where staff can connect adult family members with essential resources and services, and it sparks and supports community collaboration.
“Offering the pop-up allowed staff to share library services, engage and interact with the community.”
– ANAHEIM PUBLIC LIBRARY
“Our families expressed how grateful they were to receive free meals and activities for their kids. This is especially crucial during summer, when many families who rely on school provided meals now have a gap in their nutrition.”
– CONTRA COSTA COUNTY LIBRARY
In communities, a number of children rely on school lunches to provide nutritious food to help them grow healthily, mentally and physically. When school is out for summer or during an extended period of time, this source of food often disappears and parents and youth have a lack of access to healthy food and free engagement activities. This is where Lunch at the Library comes into play – it is a way for children, teens and families to acquire nutrition and educational resources.
“One of the parents was very grateful for the food provided since her working hours were cut short, so the food was a great asset for her family.”
– CAMARENA MEMORIAL PUBLIC LIBRARY
“It is especially important during the pandemic because it keeps our community fed and connected to the library, books, and reading.”
– HAYWARD PUBLIC LIBRARY
“Many of the children in our area are enrolled in the federal free and reduced price meal program during the school year and would face food insecurities if the summer meals were not available.”
– CITY OF COMMERCE PUBLIC LIBRARY
“Some children would not receive a meal if the library did not offer the program. The children feel safe when they come to the library.”
– EL CENTRO PUBLIC LIBRARY
In the summer, many libraries assembled take-home activity kits, distributed free books, and created virtual programs that could be viewed online. During these past two years, libraries have also expanded their community meal sites to a variety of locations and provided programming at these sites. These locations include, migrant farmworker camps, apartment complexes, government subsidized housing, medical clinics, health centers, parks, schools, food banks, and tribal reservations.
The Lunch at the Library program is an important service to offer in our community because it allows us to assist children and families in staying connected to quality educational, informational, and social/emotional opportunities over the summer months.
– BURBANK PUBLIC LIBRARY
“We were able to provide books for children to keep, a rare treat for many. We reached many non-library users and introduced them to our programs and services, while encouraging them to read through the summer.”
– SANTA CRUZ PUBLIC LIBRARIES
Libraries come in all shapes and sizes and offer unique, diverse, and engaging programming opportunities at the library, and also though pop-up programing where libraries are taking programs out to community meal sites.
“Food distribution is an important issue in the community. Combining food distribution with library programs allows public libraries an avenue for information services and provides entertainment and educational services to families that are using food distribution sites.”
– FRESNO COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
“Our ongoing summer partners loved the versatility we offered again this summer. By dropping off the weekly hands-on STEAM programs ahead of time, program staff were able to have children pick-up their kits with their meals and then tune in from their homes to each lunch and follow along with the staff lead virtual program.”
– ANAHEIM PUBLIC LIBRARY
A big part of the Lunch at the Library program is connecting children, teens and families with enrichment activities. During the summer many children and teens are at home and some lack access to quality and healthy food resources; this is one of the reasons why libraries play an important role in nutrition, education and access to food.
“One mom cried when she learned we could feed all 7 of her children with a simple grab-n-go model.”
– LODI PUBLIC LIBRARY
“The smiles and words of appreciation that we receive make our efforts very worthwhile. One grandmother, who brings her grandchildren every day to receive meals and activities every year, tells us her gratitude with the words, ‘You bless this neighborhood.'” – VENTURA COUNTY LIBRARY
To learn more about the California Lunch at The Library, visit The Lunch at the Library Program page.
Thank you to the following libraries for use of their program’s Lunch at the Library photos:
- Anaheim Public Library
- Camarena Memorial Library
- City of El Centro Public Library
- Kern County Library
- Placentia Library District
- San Diego Public Library
- San Mateo County Libraries
- Santa Barbara Public Library
- Santa Cruz Public Libraries