Summer is the season for vacations and rest, but for many families in Richmond it can be a time of increased need and stress. According to Kidsdata.org, more than 20,000 children and teens (70% of K-12 students) are eligible to receive free or reduced price school meals in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. When many schools close their doors during summer break from mid-June to mid-August, children in low-income families are left without regular access to healthy food.
In response, the Richmond Library has partnered with the West Contra Costa Unified School District, Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, California Summer Meal Coalition, and the California Library Association to provide summer meals to children and fresh produce to adults.
The Richmond Library joins a network of more than 100 other public libraries in California that have implemented Lunch at the Library programs. Learning from other library’s success, the Richmond Library is coupling meal distribution with health-promoting educational opportunities. Many children stay after lunchtime for the Library’s Summer Reading Heroes program, where volunteers, interns, and staff read with kids to prevent summer learning loss. In July, we will be starting a Digital Health Literacy class for parents with grant support from the California Library Association.
The Richmond Library’s main branch (325 Civic Center Plaza) provides lunch for children 0 to 18 years-old on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12-1pm. A complete list of the other summer meal sites in the West Contra Costa Unified School District is here, and a map of all sites in Contra Costa and Solano counties is here.