Hunger and Libraries: Snacks, Backpacks and More

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Autumn is an excellent time of year to highlight ways libraries are fighting hunger in their communities, and October is a great month to start planning for summer lunch and learning programs. This list of resources will help you explore how food insecurity is impacting your local community. We’ve also gathered ideas and inspiration from library staff who are teaming up with local partners to provide after-school snacks, breakfast before schools, backpacks with food to get kids through the weekend, and more.

Hungry in America?

Practical resources to get started

  • Use WhyHunger’s hotline to refer people in need to food pantries, soup kitchens, summer meals sites, government nutrition programs and grassroots organizations across the U.S. Call 1(800) 5-HUNGRY, text your zip code to 1-800-548-6479, or use this online form to locate a local emergency food provider and other support services. WhyHunger also has free downloadable posters with this information in English and Spanish on its website.
  • Help finding food for kids, families trying to get ahead, seniors and others using Feeding America’s website and resources.
  • Range is a free mobile app that locates the nearest locations where summer meals for youth are served. Range locates free meal sites and provides contact information and directions to easily guide a youth to a nearby site. Read more about Range on TechSoup.
  • Lunch at the Library has a useful outline of first steps for establishing a USDA summer meal program at your library.

Easy-to-use tools for expanding existing services and programming

  • Use the Hungry to Help Family Action Plan (pdf) from Feeding America to inspire and empower families with kids to take action and fight summer hunger.
  • The Lunch at the Library website provides practice-based resources and evaluation tools to help librarians successfully partner the lunch service with summer reading and enrichment programs.
  • The USDA’s Summer Food Service Program website features webinars, toolkits, and a mapping tool to help determine need in the community. The Summer Meals Toolkit is a great place to start.

Ideas and inspiration from other libraries

Further related articles and learning on WebJunction

Image: Happy participants on the patio at David A. Howe Public Library in Wellsville, NY