Those kids are hungry…Feed them!
The Summer Lunch program is FREE! Contact the Summer Food Service Program in January to make plans for this summer. Read Leslie LaBarte’s post below
What’s holding you back? No kitchen? You can contract to have bag lunches brought in. You don’t have to offer the lunch every day–but why not? If half of the kids in your school district qualify for free or reduced lunches, then ALL the kids who attend your program can have the free lunch at the library! Advertising the meals with your program may even increase your attendance! Interested? Questions? Contact the Summer Food Program staff at the Pennsylvania Department of Education– email SFSP-RA@pa.gov or call 800.331.0129.
Fifty-two libraries participated in the Summer Food Program this year, 15 more than the previous year. Those libraries are decreasing the number of children who suffer from hunger; however, there are still children residing far from available feeding sites. The Pennsylvania Department of Education hopes that more libraries will want to join the fight against childhood hunger.
Libraries make great sites for many reasons. They are natural gathering places for children and have other activities for the children to do once the children are there. As a bonus to the library, the SFSP gets children in the doors. One librarian reported her children and juvenile book circulation increased over 250% the first summer she participated in SFSP.
Libraries that are in areas near families with low income are needed to participate as either a sponsor or site in the SFSP. The SFSP website is www.education.state.pa.us/sfsp. Sponsorship can be initiated by downloading forms located under “Application Process”. Libraries interested in being a site should view the sponsor list in the “Information for Potential Site” section or contact PDE.To contact the SFSP staff at PDE email SFSP-RA@pa.gov or call 800.331.0129.
Leslie LaBarte tells of her experience with the Summer Food Program:
When I was the assistant at the Sugar Grove Free Library, I noticed a need in the community during the summer. Children were passing by the library. Several were always roaming the streets, sometimes alone and during all hours of the day and night. I began asking some patrons with children if they knew these kids and I discovered that most of the children were from single parent homes headed by dads who were working during the day.
I saw the Summer Food program in the Compendium and asked the current director if we could see if our library would qualify. Of course she was behind me but, little did I know, I would be running the entire program alone, since the director had applied for another job. So, I applied for the program, was granted approval, and then set to the task of finding who would deliver these meals, since Sugar Grove is pretty rural.
I looked at the guidelines and approached the local AmVets Post. I knew they had a licensed kitchen and I asked them to see if they could help with the preparation and delivery of summer meals. The ladies auxiliary was more than happy to help! For seven weeks, I ran a library and was able to pull off the summer food program. Mary & her staff at Summer Food were amazing and helped me with the PEARS system to input the number of lunches I served and when I had any questions or problems.
I served 404 lunches that first year, my circulation increased and I helped out some much appreciative children and parents. This year, we ran the program right before our summer reading, and received an even better response, we served 592 lunches. This program may seem like a lot of work, but if you find the right partnerships, then you can fulfill the need that is common in many rural areas.
Contact the SFSP staff at PDE email SFSP-RA@pa.gov or call 800.331.0129.
Those kids are hungry…Feed them!