State Library Services

Making Summer Meals Work at Your Library

[Added 6/04/2020] As of the 2017-2018 school year, four out of 10 Minnesota public school students qualified for free and reduced-price lunch. 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.

On this page, learn more about the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and how your library can support families struggling with hunger and poverty. Please contact Leah Larson for more information.

Finding Sponsors

[Added 6/04/2020] The SFSP is a federally funded, state-administered program. The SFSP reimburses providers who serve free healthy meals to children and teens in low-income areas during the summer months when school is not in session.

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.

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

Finding Meal Sites

[Added 6/04/2020] Free Meals for Kids – Hunger Impact Partners, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Education, created this app to support school nutrition programs for students during COVID-19. The app is powered by GPS and shows locations of schools and other sites that are providing meals and meal packs with days and hours of distribution. It also shows the distance and directions to the nearest site.

Resources for More Information

Grants

Hunger Impact Partners -- Libraries are eligible to apply for their Summer Meals Initiative grants. Rolling application deadline.

Minnesota 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.

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

[Added 6/04/2020] Feeding Your Community Summer Meals at Libraries in 2020. Collaborative Summer Library Program. Explains how the Summer Food Service Program is different in 2020 due to the pandemic, and how libraries can get involved or adjust services. From May 2020.

Making Summer Meals Work at Your Library. Department of Education/State Library Services. In this informational webinar, Jenny Butcher, USDA Summer Food Service Program Coordinator at MDE, shares how your library can get involved. From March 2018.

Summer Meals 101 for Libraries and Museums. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Thirty-minute archived webinar to demonstrate how libraries and museums can help youth receive nutritious meals during summer when school is out. From April 2016.

Websites

Libraries and Summer Food. Collaborative Summer Library Program. Explore how libraries can participate and support summer meals directly as food service sites, or through outreach, publicity, and collaboration.

Lunch at the Library. California State 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.

No Kid Hungry. Share Our Strength. 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.

[Added 6/04/2020] FNS Response to COVID-19. Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Since the outset of the coronavirus outbreak, USDA has provided states broad flexibility to ensure the continuation of meal service during COVID-19 related school closures.