For many families, the stability, nutrition, and education that are provided by the school lunch program, the school day, and after-school programs, ends when school lets out for summer.
“During the summer vacation, many families with young children and teens often struggle to have their basic needs met, and for many, the summer months mean reduced or limited access to healthy food, learning and enrichment programs, and safe places to congregate and be active,” said Colusa County Librarian Stacey Costello.
About 16.7 million children and teens under the age of 18 in the United States live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food for a healthy life.
“The USDA Summer Food Service Program helps to ensure that children and teens receive nutritious meals when school is not in session by enabling community based organizations, such as the public library, to offer healthy meals to children and teens,” Costello said.
Lunch at the Library is an accessible, popular program, providing healthy meals and learning and enrichment opportunities, free of charge and help address the need for appealing, enriching, summer meal sites, and are helping to ensure that children and teens return to school in the fall ready to learn.
“Research has shown that as a result of having limited summertime opportunities, children and teens in low-income families suffer significantly from a loss of academic skills during the summer months and they experience greater summer learning loss than their peers in higher-income families,” Costello said. “This summer learning shortfall widens the achievement gap and can impact whether or not a child graduates from high school and continues on to college.”
To help ensure that all children are nourished and engaged during the summer months, the main branch of the Colusa County Free Library will host Lunch at the Library, held each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, starting June 10 through August 9, from noon to 12:45 PM.
“Any and all local children and teens, ages 0–18, are welcome and encouraged to stop by the Colusa Library, eat a healthy, delicious meal, and participate in one of the many engaging and fun summer programs that the library has developed,” Costello said.
The programs and meals are free to all children. ■