School’s out for summer. That means fun in the sun — and food insecurity for many of the 20 million kids who rely on free and reduced-price school lunches. As a recent report by the Food Research & Action Center says, Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, and only 1 in 6 eligible children and teens receive free lunches during the summer.
But that free lunch is out there, and your local public library might be the place to find it (and to beat the heat). The USDA-funded Lunch at the Library program estimates that this year 198 public libraries in California will serve 275,000 free meals.
Here are some online resources to help low-income families find free lunches — at libraries and other locations throughout Los Angeles County (where the Family Strengthening Network is based):
- L.A. Regional Food Bank (LAFoodBank.org):
- USDA’s Summer Meal Finder: New sites are added throughout the summer, so check periodically for updates.
- Calif. Dept. of Education:
- L.A. County Library (LACountyLibrary.org/SummerLunch): Free lunches for kids and teens at these 25 locations (June 11 – August 3, Monday – Friday, 12:00 – 1:00 pm): A C Bilbrew, Artesia, Baldwin Park, City Terrace, Clifton M. Brakensiek, Duarte, East Rancho Dominguez, El Camino Real, El Monte, Gardena, Huntington Park, La Puente, Lake Los Angeles, Lancaster, Lawndale, Lennox, Littlerock, Los Nietos, Lynwood, Norwalk, Quartz Hill, San Fernando, San Gabriel, Sorensen, South Whitter
- L.A. City Library (LAPL.org/summerlunch): Free lunches for kids and teens Monday through Friday, from June 11 to August 3. Lunch is served 12:30 – 1:30 pm, except at branches marked with *. Click for details: Canoga Park, Central Library, *Echo Park, *Exposition Park, *Hyde Park, Jefferson, Lincoln Heights, Mark Twain, Northridge, Pacoima, Pico Union, San Pedro, Sunland Tujunga, Vermont Square, Vernon
- Glendale Public Library Children’s Summer Reading Program: Free lunch for kids at several locations (times vary)
- Lunch at the Library – Summer Meal Site Map: Includes a list of all libraries in California that offer free lunch.
Beyond nutritional sustenance, public libraries are a great community resource for families. For instance:
- The Discover & Go program allows anyone with an L.A. County Library card to reserve FREE family passes to local museums and cultural attractions.
- Baby-toddler storytimes and other family events available at most libraries not only help parents instill a love of learning in their kids, but also give moms and dads a chance to connect with other parents.
- Free classes help adults build skills, find jobs, learn arts and crafts, and have fun in a variety of ways. See the events calendars for libraries in L.A. County, L.A. City, Inglewood, Long Beach, Glendale, Pasadena, and Palmdale.
- See First 5 LA’s Unexpected Ways to Use the Library This Summer.
If you work in home visiting or another family support service, encourage your clients to stop by the local public library to nourish their bodies and their brains.