Libraries serving children free meals all summer

Date Published: 
June 19, 2015

This summer, all local children are being invited to eat free meals at the Selbyville and Frankford public libraries, no questions asked.

“It will help to fill the gap with food insecurity throughout the summer,” said Frankford Public Library Director Rachel Wackett.

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) was created to help fill food gaps during summer months, when the free and reduced-price school lunch program is unavailable. The meals are designed to meet federal nutrition requirements.

Locally, meals have been served since school ended on June 11 and will continue until the last week of August.

The Selbyville library serves food Monday to Friday: lunch at noon, a snack at 3 p.m. The Frankford library serves lunch Mondays and Fridays, from noon to 1 p.m., and it serves a snack on Thursdays from 4 to 5 p.m. The times often coincide with other programs.

Children eat on-site, in the libraries’ community rooms. Meals are offered on a first-come, first-served basis for anyone 18 or younger. Sign-up is not required.

“All children qualify. There’s no income restrictions,” Wackett said. “Just show up.”

Children don’t need to give their names or show eligibility documents.

Library staff members were trained to dispense food.

“The kids in the library, most of them are within walking distance,” Wackett said. “We definitely feel this is the right way to go,” especially for older children who may have to look after younger siblings.

The Delaware Department of Education administers the state program, although it’s federally funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Today, Delaware’s program has about 30 sponsors and 371 feeding sites, which will increase in the coming weeks.

Sponsors range from the YMCA to public schools and even the City of Wilmington. Volunteers pack and deliver meals each morning to libraries, churches and other community groups.

The Food Bank of Delaware is a major sponsor. When it gave a call for action, four Sussex County libraries volunteered, including those in Delmar and Seaford. This is the first time Food Bank has specifically partnered with libraries.

“They really did recognize the role libraries play in the community, particularly with school-aged children,” said Wackett.

“Our job is to recruit sites who have access to kids at risk of hunger over the summer,” said the Food Bank’s Kim Turner. “If there are other sites who want to come on board throughout the summer, we are always adding other sites. Really, we just want to help build awareness.”

For more information, call the Frankford Public Library at (302) 732-9351 or Selbyville Public Library at (302) 436-8195.

To find feeding sites in Delaware, call the Delaware Help Line at 211 or text “FOOD” to 877-877. Or find complete list online at www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks, using the “Find sites” pull-down menu.

Nearby summer sites currently include:

• Delaware Adolescent Program Inc.

• American Legion Auxiliary Unit 28

• Oak Orchard Boys & Girls Club

• Dagsboro Boys & Girls Club

• Frankford Public Library

• Hickory Tree 4H

• Selbyville Public Library