During the summer months, the seven branches of the Colusa County Free Library are busy hosting programs for school aged kids and their parents wanting to combat boredom and summer learning loss. This summer, the Library system served just under 1,800 kids between June and July. The dearth of inexpensive, local summer activities provides the library a unique opportunity to ramp up its programming and reach a wide variety of our local youth with a diverse array of experiences. For the second year, the main branch has served free lunches to any youth, 18 or under, three days a week. Over the course of this summer, 501 meals were served, providing a nutritious lunch and an opportunity to engage with peers and learning opportunities.
Lunch at the library, while a valuable standalone program, was greatly enhanced this summer with a partnership with the Colusa Certified Farmers Market. Each Friday during the lunch service, Jennifer Diaz, manager of the Thursday night market in Colusa, would bring samples of locally grown fruit or vegetables from the market vendors, for the library’s lunch guests to sample. Kids were given the opportunity to taste things, such as locally grown strawberries, almonds, pecans, pluots, lemon cucumbers, zucchini, blackberries, and more. Even though these foods are grown in the fields and farms surrounding our homes, and may seem ubiquitous to California tables, the truth is, many of the kids tasted them for the first time. Watching the kids reactions to each week’s sample, and seeing the enjoyment (or disgust) was a highlight of the summer meal service.
The library would like to thank Ms. Diaz, and the vendors of the Certified Farmers Market, for so generously partnering with the library, and for continuing to work so hard to build up our local market. This partnership not only enhanced our summer lunch service, but also strengthened our sense of community. Working directly with another local organization and supporting each other reminded us how great our hometown is and we look forward to growing more partnerships like this one. We would encourage everyone to swing by the Thursday evening markets, and support our local vendors who did not hesitate to support Colusa County’s youth!
Stacey Zwald Costello, County Librarian