State Library Services
Making Summer Meals Work at Your Library
More than 50 percent of children nationally now qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, and 20 percent of Minnesota children live with food insecurity. Rates across the state vary widely, but nearly all communities have pockets of poverty. For many students, school meals are their primary source of nutrition. Libraries provide a safe haven for youth, offering many activities that draw in children. Summer meals provided at the library act as a magnet to draw children to these activities and keep children mentally engaged, providing educational enrichment and decreasing summer slide effects. Learn more about the Summer Food Service Program and how your library can support families struggling with hunger and poverty. Please contact Jen Verbrugge for more information.
To become a summer meal site, your library first needs to find a sponsor who can work with a vendor to supply the food. Below is a non-exhaustive list of potential sponsors in Minnesota. Contact the staff of Minnesota Department of Education (MDE)’s Summer Food Service Program for additional help in locating a sponsor near you.
- Loaves & Fishes – serves Twin Cities, with dining sites also in Aitkin and Marshall
- Second Harvest Heartland – serves Twin Cities, central Minnesota, southwest Minnesota, western Wisconsin
- United Way of Northeastern Minnesota – serves the Arrowhead region of Minnesota
- Yes Network – serves the St. Cloud area
- Youthprise – serves Twin Cities; hoping to increase summer meals in southern suburbs
Resources for More Information
- is a list of resources to offer you both inspiration and more information. State Library Services works to keep this list up to date and useful.
- Eats Minnesota – locate free and nutritious summer meals for kids up to age 18
- – help youth find safe places all year round and summer meals
- York Times, Free Lunch at the Library, July 30, 2017
- Libraries Provide Much Needed Access to Nutrition in the Summer, February 14, 2017
- Impact Partners -- Libraries are eligible to apply for their Summer Meals Initiative grants. Rolling application deadline.
- Initiative Foundations – Six regional foundations across Greater Minnesota. Established by The McKnight Foundation, each foundation is independent and serves its geographic region. Many have initiatives to fight hunger.
- Recreation and Park Association (NRPA)/Walmart Foundation – Local government agencies are invited to apply for a Healthy Out-of-School Time grant. Applications are due mid-March each year.
- Harvest Heartland – Their summer food grant opportunity opens in March each year, as long as funding is available. Second Harvest serves the 7-county metro and surrounding counties. Applications are due April 16.
- Community Grants – Grant-giving across eight areas of funding, including hunger relief and healthy eating. Rolling application deadline through December 31, 2018.
- Local United Way – Visit United Ways of Minnesota website to find contact information for your local United Way. Many United Ways have initiatives to end hunger.
Videos and Webinars
- Department of Education/State Library Services – Public libraries can help make sure hungry kids have access to nutritious food when school is not in session. Begin planning your summer 2018 participation by viewing this informational webinar. Jenny Butcher, USDA Summer Food Service Program Coordinator at MDE, shares how your library can get involved.
- Research and Action Center (FRAC) Webinar and Conference Calls – upcoming free webinars and conference calls presented by FRAC, a national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States
- Impact Partners Using the Summer Eats Minnesota App – video demonstrating how to use the new app to find free summer meals near you
- Department of Agriculture (USDA) Summer Meals 101 for Libraries and Museums – 30-minute archived webinar to demonstrate how libraries and museums can help youth receive nutritious meals during summer when school is out
- Library Association Lunch at the Library – provides library staff with tools and support to provide children and teens in low-income communities with free and nutritious lunches through the USDA Summer Food Service Program
- Our Strength No Kid Hungry – a national campaign run by Share Our Strength, a nonprofit working to solve problems of hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world
- Summer Food, Summer Moves – hands-on resource kit designed to get kids and families excited about healthy eating and physical activity during the summer
Public Library SFSP Sites
- are now nearly 20 public libraries serving summer meals across the state. Quite a few more libraries are rain locations for outside summer meal sites or stops for mobile meal busses. Please help us keep this list of sites up-to-date by emailing Jen Verbrugge with changes or additions.