Recent news reports highlight an increased demand placed on food banks due to the rising costs of groceries and termination of emergency allotments of the California food assistance program known as CalFresh. This affects families both locally and statewide.
Fortunately, Sonoma County Library is helping families struggling with food insecurity by offering free summer lunch for youth ages 0-18 at seven library locations: Cloverdale, Healdsburg, Northwest Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Rohnert Park-Cotati, Sebastopol, and Sonoma Valley, with funding provided by the California State Library. We received additional funds to hire teen interns to support this service, as well as funding for a mobile library van to conduct outreach at 30 more summer lunch locations countywide.
In addition to a nutritious meal, all of the library’s summer lunch events offer enrichment activities to keep children and youth engaged and to support reading and learning. By the end of June, we served 1,906 meals in our branches, conducted 22 outreach visits at external sites (633 meals), and our volunteers logged 257.5 hours! We are proud of the efforts of our staff and volunteers to provide this essential service to our communities, and we are continually seeking ways to grow and improve this program every year.
Sonoma County Library has partnered with Redwood Empire Food Bank since 2015 to offer this service, which was suspending during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are thrilled to resume sit-down service again. For more information about this program, visit sonomalibrary.org or contact your local branch library.