Thursday, August 10, 2017
CHECKING OUT FREE LUNCH AT THE LIBRARY
Librarians used to forbid any food or drink to avoid staining books and attracting pests; they scolded people who tried to sneak snacks in the stacks. But, now, they are the ones putting food on the table. This summer, hundreds of libraries are serving federally funded summer meals to children to ensure that they don’t go hungry. The change is part of an effort to stay relevant to patrons and to pair nutrition and educational activities so low-income children get summertime learning, too. Librarians and anti-hunger advocates in California, Ohio, Virginia and New York all reported sizable increases in participation after a concerted recruitment effort spread from state to state through webinars, librarian conferences and word of mouth. In 2014, the USDA started recommending libraries as potential partners, and has an online tool to connect them to sponsors. In 2016, public libraries in California provided over 203,000 meals for children at 139 sites, up from just 17 in 2013. Last year, Ohio had 133 library branches serving USDA-funded food, up from 88 in 2014. New York has more than 115 libraries participating this summer, compared to 36 in 2013.
Source: New York Times, 7/30/17, Summer Meals at Libraries