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Joining Forces: Summer Reading and Food Service Programs
 
The Oregon State Library and Oregon Department of Education’s Child Nutrition Program have been partnering for several years to help libraries and summer food service programs work together. Low literacy rates and food insecurity are significant problems in Oregon. In 2015, only 46% of third graders were reading at grade level or higher and only 46% of students were well fed. Students are at risk of losing reading skills and going hungry during summer vacation.
 
When libraries and food service programs work together they can more effectively address these problems. Libraries report that more families participate in summer reading when they provide free meals in conjunction with programs. Summer food programs report that more families eat meals when they provide enrichment activities like summer reading.
 

Help families find free summer food sites with these simple, no-cost activities

 
Distribute Summer Food Service Program bookmarks to families with children and teens. The Oregon State Library and Oregon Department of Education’s Child Nutrition Program partner to provide all public libraries with Summer Food Service Program bookmarks. The bookmarks include information in English and Spanish about how to find the closest free summer food site. Libraries are encouraged to make these bookmarks available to families. You can order more bookmarks by emailing Cathy Brock.
 
Post No Hungry Kid flyers in your library and distribute postcards that say, “Text ‘food’ to 9877-877 for free summer meals near you” in English and Spanish.
 
Add a link to Free Summer Meals in Oregon: Find a Site to your library’s website so families using your website can find the free summer food site most convenient for them.
 
Add a shortcut to Free Summer Meals in Oregon: Find a Site to the desktop of public access computers in your library so families using your website can find the free summer food site most convenient for them.
 
Download the Range app on the library’s mobile devices that patrons can use. It’s available via the Windows Store, Google Play, and Apple’s App Store.
 
Help families download the Range app onto their mobile devices. Range helps youth find a meal and a safe place during the summer. It’s available via the Windows Store, Google Play, and Apple’s App Store.
 
Schedule your summer reading activities, events, and programs on days and times that coordinate with a nearby summer food site meal time. Data show that more families attend library programs and more families eat at summer food sites when families can make one trip to do both activities. Email Cathy Brock to get the contact information for your local summer food site. Then call your local food site to start a conversation about coordinating programming schedules.
 

Engage families at Summer Food Service Program sites in your summer reading program

 

Determine the range of support your library is able to provide Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sites

  • Can the library provide reading logs, incentives, and some books and programs supplies to SFSP site staff so they can implement your summer reading program at their site?
  • Can library staff (or volunteers) visit the SFSP site during the summer?
    • What can you do there? Some ideas include, but are not limited to: sign kids up for your summer reading program, check reading logs and distribute prizes, drop off a deposit collection of books that stay at the site all summer, read aloud to families, do a storytimes, do an activity, or something else.
    • How many times can you visit?
  • Be as flexible as possible. Know your limits, but be open to compromise with staff at the SFSP site and willing to adapt activities to better meet the needs of families who may not be experienced library users.

Email Cathy Brock to get the contact information for your local SFSP.

 

Contact staff at your local SFSP and start a conversation about how you can help them provide the summer reading program to the families they serve.

 

Promote your program with materials, available in English and Spanish, from the United States Department of Agriculture.

 

Provide families free food at your summer reading program

Find out if your library is eligible to participate in the Summer Food Services Program via the Oregon Department of Education's eligibility tool.
 
If your library is eligible,
  • Know Summer Food Services Program is flexible, you can choose…
    • What type of meals you want to provide: morning snacks, afternoon snacks, breakfast, bag lunches, hot lunches, or dinner.
    • How many and which days you want to offer summer food: one or more days a week, including weekends. For example, you might provide afternoon snack once a week in conjunction with Saturday activity time.
    • To provide summer food only at a one-off event. For example, you might provide bag lunches at your summer reading grand finale picnic.
    • From a variety of free, ready to use banners, fliers, and other materials to promote summer food at your summer reading program.
    • To use teen volunteers to help you set-up/clean-up before and after providing food, help children and families get their food and get seated, read to children and families while they eat, and count meals distributed and number of people participating.
  • Talk with people at libraries who have been Summer Food Service Program sites or sponsors.
  • Contact one or both of the following people. They will help you through the process step by step!
  • Promote your summer food program with materials, available in English and Spanish, from the United States Department of Agriculture or from Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon.
If your library is not eligible for SFSP even though hunger is a significant problem in your community, then start a conversation with local restaurants, grocery stores, and food service businesses. Perhaps they are willing to partner with the library to provide food at your summer reading activities, events, and programs.
 

Convince my library's decision-makers that the library should be involved in hunger prevention

 
Providing the Summer Food Service Program at our library will attract new library users and increase usage statistics. Residents who qualify for SFSP are one of the underserved groups of people currently not using the library.
 
Taking the summer reading program to an SFSP site will increase library support when our levy is on the ballot again. Residents who participate in SFSP are one of the underserved groups of people who currently do not use the library, are not benefiting from the library, and have no personal reason to vote for the library.
 
54% of Oregon students qualified for free and reduced priced meals during the 2015-2016 school year, according to the Oregon Department of Education’s Child Nutrition Program. Find out how many students in your community qualified for free and reduced by school district via the Oregon Department of Education’s eligibility tool.
 
4 out of 5 students who ate free or reduced priced meals during the school year did not eat free summer meals and were hungry over the summer, according to Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon.
 
The purpose of our library summer reading program is to help youth maintain or improve their reading skills during this long vacation from school. Research from the Food Research & Action Center shows that behavioral, emotional, mental health, and academic problems are more prevalent among youth who are hungry. The library needs to provide food to ensure all youth participating in summer reading activities are able to follow directions, self-regulate, have positive interactions with their peers, and focus on the task at hand so they can achieve our desired outcome.
 

Questions?

 
Please contact Katie Anderson at katie.anderson@state.or.us or 503-378-2528.