Summer lunch program returns to Heights Libraries
Summertime can mean hunger for some young people in our community, who no longer have access to free meals at school. Heights Libraries is ready to serve these children and teens, age 18 and younger, by once again hosting the Greater Cleveland Food Bank-sponsored free summer lunch program at its Lee Road and Noble Neighborhood branches.
The Lee Road branch’s lunch program began June 4 and runs through Aug. 10, and is offered Monday through Friday, 1–2 p.m.
Heights Libraries’ Noble Neighborhood branch will provide lunches on Tuesday and Thursdays, 1:30–2:30 p.m., through Aug. 9.
If kids can’t make it to the Lee Road or Noble Neighborhood branches, or need breakfast in addition to lunch, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District is offering free breakfast (8–9 a.m.) and lunch (11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.), Monday through Friday (through Aug. 10), at Boulevard Elementary School and Heights High; and Monday through Thursday at Gearity (through July 12) and Noble (June 25 through July 19) elementary schools.
With the recent closing of the Heights Youth Club, which had offered free summer lunch programs in recent years, Heights Libraries recognized the need to act fast to fill the void.
“We’re grateful to have re-established our summer lunch program so quickly,” said Nancy Levin, director of Heights Libraries. “We have a strong partnership with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, and they were very supportive of our desire to introduce this important program again. The library is a fun and welcoming place for children and teens to explore age-appropriate activities and programs. The fact that we are providing free summer lunches again, as well, speaks to our ongoing commitment to supporting our youth.”
In addition to offering dozens of free, nutritious meals, Heights Libraries will also promote literacy and summer reading-related activities at lunch each day. This combination is intended to nourish the bodies and minds of local youth, and prevent a decline in literacy skills over the summer—a phenomenon known as “summer slide.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirms the importance of library-hosted summer lunch programs: “By combining meals with reading programs, libraries are natural partners and ideal sites for summer meals.”
According to the USDA, summer hunger is a reality for thousands of children across the country, primarily those living in low-income households or “food deserts.” What’s more, hunger is a proven obstacle to learning, and a lack of nutritious food options during the summer can negatively impact a student’s school performance once the school year starts up again in the fall.
For more information about the free summer lunch program, visit www.heightslibrary.org or call 216-932-3600.
Jay Rosen is communications coordinator at Heights Libraries.