Lunch at the Library will only be successful if the children and families in the community know that the library is serving meals.

CDE lists all summer meal sites in California on its website. This information is also available through 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).  This service is also available to Spanish speakers at 1-877-842-6273. Meal sponsors may also conduct outreach to families. The more outreach the better. It is also important to note that library meal sites are required to display information about their lunch service in a manner visible to the public.

Outreach Materials

2023 outreach templates coming soon.

Ideas for Promoting your Program

The most successful Lunch at the Library programs reach out to the community in multiple ways. Successful strategies include:

  • 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: Consider adding a flyer to a book at check-out time or preparing staff with a “Check-out Script” message for caregiver patrons like: “Just to let you know, our library will start serving free lunches for kids and teens beginning June 15.”  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 the 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 the Lunch at the Library 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, TikTok and Facebook to engage with the local community.
  • 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 the community.
  • Remember to tailor the message to the audience, e.g. children, parents and caregivers, community leaders.
  • To help address any capacity concerns, consider conducting limited publicity efforts during the first few days of the program and increase or decrease efforts as needed.
  • Encourage colleagues, leaders, and those working with low-income families to download Range, a mobile application to locate summer meal sites.
  • Be sure that staff have a clear understanding of the library’s photo release policy. Also, be sensitive to the language used in disseminating photos, press releases or other communication materials so that the focus is on keeping kids healthy and engaged when school is out (since it is open to all children in the community) rather than language that may be stigmatizing to families with lower-incomes.