Library offers summer lunch program

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By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Linda Dillman
The Columbus Metropolitan Library is offering a summer lunch program.

For many kids, a school meal is the only guarantee they will not go hungry, but what happens when school doors close for the summer and stomachs go empty?

The federal government steps in with its Summer Food Service Program, which is as close as a neighborhood library.

Free summer lunches in the form of a grab-and-go meal are distributed free of charge Monday through Friday at library locations throughout central Ohio including the Southeast, 3980 S. Hamilton Road, (from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) and South High, 3540 S. High St. (from 11 a.m.-1p.m.) branches.

“In partnership with the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, we started serving summer lunch in 2002 at four branches,” said Mary Ann Crago, Youth Services Manager of Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Southeast Branch, who oversees the summer lunch partnership this year. “The service has since grown to 15 locations. At Columbus Metropolitan Library, we recognize the value in providing all children access to nutritious meals in a safe, friendly community space over the summer months.”

Grab-and-go lunches are fresh meals, delivered daily, that contain one serving of milk, two or more servings of vegetables or fruit, one serving of grain and one serving of meat or meat alternative. Meals often contain a wrap or sandwich along with fruits, vegetables and milk and are for ages one through 18.

South High branch customer service specialist Abdulrahman Alruwaishan said response has been good for the summer meal program.

“People are glad we’re here,” said Alruwaishan. “It makes a big difference. I look forward to having the kids here.”

Adults do not need to accompany children picking up lunch, however an adult may pick up a lunch for a child who is not present. Children under age seven must be accompanied by a caregiver who is at least age16.

According to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, in addition to the library locations, summer meal sites are also available at:

•Indian Meadows, 4050 Southpoint Boulevard, Heritage of Hannah Neil, 301 Obetz Road, and Scioto Southland Community Center, 3901 Parsons Avenue.

•Glendening Elementary, 4200 Glendening Drive, Degenhart Park, and Groveport Madison Middle School Central, 751 Main St.

•Indian Trail Elementary School, 6767 Gender Road, Winchester Trail Elementary School, 6865 Gender Road, Canal Winchester Middle School, 7155 Parkview Drive, and Canal Winchester High School, 300 Washington St.

The South High branch is also offering Summer Reading Challenge outdoor activities such as a Large Farm Animal Visit, June 29 1-3 p.m., with chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits, sheep, goats and a mini-pig providing a real-life farm experience for all ages.

On July 17 from 1-3 p.m., all ages can get a glimpse of West Africa through drumming and dance, colorful costumes, musical instruments, rhythms and songs with Sogbety Diomande.

If you missed the farm animals in June, they are back on July 24 from 1-3 p.m.
“It’s a great opportunity for children to engage in summer reading fun and pick up a grab-and-go meal. Check in with staff to see what’s happening,” said Crago.

For information about USDA’s Summer Food Service Program sites close to you, visit www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks or www.fns.usda.gov/meals4kids.

Columbus Metropolitan Library’s all-online Summer Reading Challenge runs through July 31 and is designed keep young readers from losing critical literacy skills—the Summer Slide—during the summer months.

“This pandemic has deeply impacted our young minds and their ability to learn,” said CML Public Services Director Kathy Shahbodaghi. “Helping them get back on track starts with books and reading. This is especially critical during the out-of-school months.”

CML will mail participants a game board with activities and a free book while supplies last. Participants complete reading goals in order to be entered into raffle drawings for gift cards and other prizes. A raffle at the end of the program includes kids’ bikes, helmets and locks for the five-11 age group.

Visit a local branch or www.columbuslibrary.org for information about the online Summer Reading Challenge.

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