Perhaps your library has a summer meal site very close by* or has other reasons that prevent it from becoming a summer meal site. There are many other ways that libraries can get involved in local efforts to ensure children and teens continue to have access to healthy food when school is out. Activities are key to making summer meal sites worth the trip for families. Many community meal sites, particularly school-based sites, face challenges in attracting kids and families because they lack of programming to wrap around the meal service to create an inviting, fun space. If becoming a Lunch at the Library meal site is not feasible, libraries can partner with local summer meal providers to provide literacy or enrichment activities at meal sites in the community. There is limitless potential for activities based on library capacity such as:
- Summer reading sign-up and activities
- Lunchtime storytime
- Bookmobile visits
- Easy arts & crafts
- Lunchtime performers
- Book giveaways
- Lunchtime STEM activities (many community sites have outdoor space such as the school blacktop which can make options like chalk art or science experiments possible that might not be possible inside a library)
To get connected with meal sites to provide a “Pop-Up Library” experience, the best place to start is to contact your local meal provider and/or look at last year’s summer meal sites to see where there might be opportunities. Keep in mind that sites can change each year. Parks, community centers, affordable housing communities and schools provide plenty of opportunities.
*Having a summer meal site nearby does not preclude libraries from becoming summer meal sites. Sites must only demonstrate that they are serving a different group of children than the nearby site. Contact California Department of Education for more information.