More than 16,000 children in San Luis Obispo County struggle with hunger. In 2015, the SLO County Library decided to do something to help alleviate childhood hunger in our community.
The SLO County Library partnered with the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo for its 2015 Summer Food Service Program, a federally funded meals program offered in the summer. During the summer months, 16,000 children in SLO County no longer have access to a reliable source of nutritious food. These children rely on free or reduced-price lunch programs during the school year, and as soon as summer break begins, they no longer have access to these meals.
So as soon as summer started, the SLO County Library got to work, providing the only summer youth meal sites that were open to the general public. Through these sites, youth age 0-18 had the opportunity to eat healthy meals during their summer break at libraries throughout San Luis County.
During the summer of 2015, the San Luis Obispo County Library provided over 2,000 lunches at the Nipomo and Morro Bay Libraries, and over 1,000 summer snacks at the San Luis Obispo and Cambria Libraries. At each of these libraries a different fresh, healthy meal was provided by the Food Bank Coalition daily and was served by library volunteers.
In Nipomo, where 70 percent of school-age children qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, 1,559 meals were served during the summer of 2015 at the Nipomo Library. Four County Library staff members and eight Trilogy Service Club volunteers helped with this program alone. One Trilogy volunteer even built six picnic tables to help the Nipomo Library serve meals.
In 2016, the library is already working with the Food Bank Coalition to meet the same coverage as 2015 and hopefully expand the program to other communities in need.