By Beth Crist, Youth & Family Services Consultant, Colorado State Library
This summer, access to free lunches and snacks through the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) will be more important than ever to many kids across Colorado. The SFSP makes free healthy meals and snacks available to young people in communities with high rates of poverty. Many public libraries already participate as meal or snack sites, or provide programming to nearby feeding sites. Libraries can incorporate their summer library program and other fun, literacy-based activities to support child well-being and send children and teens back to school ready to learn.
There is a webinar on May 28 that came about quickly on this topic that will provide much more info; it will be archived if you’re unable to participate in the live session (everyone who registers receives the link to the archive, and I’ll also send it out on these lists on CYS-LIB Digest):
Feeding Your Community: Summer Meals at Libraries in 2020
Thursday, May 28, 11:00 MT
Many libraries around the USA participate in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), a USDA-funded program that provides free meals and snacks to children ages 0-18 in communities with high levels of need. Libraries and SFSP are a great fit! The library is a stigma-free community center where community members traditionally get things for free. Libraries also gain a lot from participating as SFSP sites. They directly support vulnerable community members and directly address food insecurity. They attract new user groups and increase their visibility and importance as a stakeholder in community well-being.
Summer meals will look quite different this year as USDA has made temporary changes so that meals may be taken home, and parents or guardians may pick up meals for their children if the state allows.
Join Penny Weaver and Maged Hanafi from the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service to learn the basics of SFSP, what will be different in 2020, and how your library can support child and community well-being by being a new or returning SFSP site, or by supporting other SFSP sites in your community. Luke Kralik, Organizational Coordinator for the Collaborative Summer Library Program, is also speaking.
Registration is required – register here:
https://usda-fns.webex.com/usda-fns/onstage/g.php?MTID=ec550bb0e7098abb855f188ebdd635060 and click on the Register link.
And there are some great resources available on this topic for further info and ideas:
The Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) has provided an excellent toolkit with lots of information and ideas for library staff on this program, including how to become a feeding site and how to partner with such a site: https://www.cslpreads.org/libraries-and-summer-food/
An exciting new addition to this toolkit is Read Up!, a mini-manual for non-library summer feeding sites, created by the CSLP Child and Community Well-Being Committee (CCWB), now available for download on the CSLP website:
Read Up! is a free 26-page resource for Summer Food Service Program sites and other feeding sites outside of libraries, featuring easy-to-implement enrichment activities that support reading, creativity, and fun. The activities are adapted from the 2020 CSLP manual. A section on Reading and Literacy Basics, written by the team, guides such sites on how they can organize literacy-supportive activities even with no books on hand, and how they can partner with libraries, involve teens, and collaborate with other community entities.
For Colorado-specific information on SFSP: https://www.cde.state.co.us/nutrition/summerfoodserviceprogram
Find Summer Meals sites close to you: www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks
Since the outset of the coronavirus outbreak, USDA has provided states with broad flexibilities to ensure the continuation of meal service during COVID-19 related school closures. USDA is committed to using all the options available to us to help people get the food they need. To learn more about the USDA Food and Nutrition service and our response to COVID-19, visit www.fns.usda.gov/coronavirus and follow us on Twitter at @USDANutrition.