To Be Well Read ... You Must Be Well Fed

Public Libraries and the USDA Summer Food Service Program

 Key Resources | Publicity Resources | How Libraries Participate | Participating Texas Libraries | Meal Providers

Webinars, Slides, Conference CallsMore Resources | Questions | Contact

Summer is the hungriest time of the year. During the school year, 2.8 million Texas students receive free or reduced-priced meals, yet only a fraction of these children receive free meals during the summer. Without consistent and quality nutrition, they are more likely to become sick, have less energy, and have difficulty focusing on reading and learning. These children may fall further behind in reading and experience more summer learning loss. The good news is that free and healthy meals are available to children and teens through age 18 at Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sites throughout Texas and the U.S.

TPhotograph of children sitting at a talbe and eating lunchhe SFSP is a federally funded program that enables libraries, school districts, churches, WIC clinics, and other eligible organizations to serve free, healthy meals to low-income children and teens through age 18 during the summer months. The program is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Texas Department of Agriculture and is available in areas where at least 50% of children are eligible for free and reduced price lunch.

One in four Texas children do not know if there will be food for their next meal. This is the second highest rate of food insecurity among children in the nation. As trusted public spaces and community centers, libraries are at the heart of their communities and they welcome children during summer vacations. Many libraries help alleviate food insecurity by participating in the SFSP and serving meals and snacks to hungry children in conjunction with their summer programs. Participation in summer programs increases and new families visit libraries and discover valuable resources and services. Many other libraries bring resources and art, literacy, and STEM programs to SFSP sites at schools and other organizations in their communities. Through this essential and underutilized program, libraries nourish children's bodies, educate their minds, enrich their lives, and support success in school and beyond.

Commissioner Sid Miller of the Texas Department of Agriculture extends an Invitation to Texas Public Libraries to participate in the USDA Summer Food Service Program.

Key Resources for the USDA Summer Food Service Program

Publicity Resources

Locating Meal Sites

Locate the nearest summer food site or help families find sites with these resources.

How Libraries Participate

Participating Texas LibrariesPhotograph of 3 children standing with trays of food

In the summer of 2016, 113 Texas public libraries participated as feeding sites. This is a 100% increase from the summer of 2015 when 56 libraries participated.

Staff or volunteers at participating libraries set up and distribute meals, clean up, and complete daily and weekly forms for the program. They must have space for children to sit and eat, refrigerator space to store food and a thermometer to ensure that food is kept at proper temperatures, a large garbage can, and cleaning supplies. Libraries without these may partner with nearby sites and bring programs and activities to the children.

Sites are inspected throughout the summer by sponsor, city, state, and federal inspectors to ensure that federal standards are met.

Meal Providers/Sponsors

Many school districts, cities, counties, and food banks are Sponsors that provide meals and snacks served at libraries. These are some of the organizations that are Sponsors for Texas public libraries.

Archived Webinars, Slides, and Conference Calls

Resources to Enhance Your Outreach and Summer Programs

For questions regarding implementing the USDA Summer Food Service Program, please contact:

The Texas Department of Agriculture information line at (877) TEX-MEAL or 877-839-6325 will direct you to the appropriate Child Nutrition Staff in your area for assistance.

For more information, please contact:

Bethany Wilson
Youth Services Consultant
Texas State Library and Archives Commission
PO Box 12927
Austin, TX 78711-2927
512-463-4856
512-936-2306 fax
 
This website is made possible through a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (2016).
 
Page last modified: October 11, 2017