Earlier this month, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller sent a letter addressed to Texas Library Leaders to urge libraries to join the Department of Agriculture in providing summer nutrition programs.
Commissioner Miller writes: “I hope you will consider joining the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) in our efforts to provide meals to Texas children in need this summer at your library. No child should go hungry just because school is out for the summer.”
That is indeed true, and as the commissioner points out, many libraries are already offering summer nutrition programs. Several branches of the Houston and Dallas public libraries as well as many other libraries around the state are locations for free summer lunches for children. Just as libraries have always offered summer reading programs to ensure that children do not lose ground on their reading skills when school is out, similarly, summer nutrition programs ensure a bridge during months when kids aren’t able to access free or reduced lunch programs in their schools.
This activity is one more example of the ways that libraries are finding ways to align their programs with broader community aspirations to strengthening individuals and families. It is part of a wider interest of libraries in creating community sustainability, –including through food security–that brings many libraries in Texas and nationally to host community gardens, lend seed packets, and provide garden tools among other activities.
We commend Commissioner Miller for this initiative and especially for recognizing the role that libraries can play in meeting the basic needs of our children and families. We are very pleased to be able to partner with the Department of Agriculture to achieve their important goals.
For more information on this topic and how your library can be involved, please see the excellent site on this topic maintained by TSLAC Youth Services Consultant, Christine McNew at https://www.tsl.texas.gov/summerreading/summerfood.