Children who receive free or reduced-price cafeteria meals throughout the year are at risk for food insecurity during the summer break, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Millvale Community Library aims to address the issue through its federally funded Summer Food Service Program from June 11 through Aug. 16.
Children 18-and-younger may visit from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, to receive free meals from local businesses Sprezzatura, Tupelo Honey Teas and Rolling Pepperoni that meet USDA guidelines for the required servings of grains, proteins, fruits, vegetables and dairy. Due to the program’s rules, children must take everything offered, said Lisa Seel, Friends of Millvale Community Library president and summer lunch program coordinator.
Since the USDA considers Millvale a low-income area, children visiting the library automatically qualify for the meals. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 17% of Millvale children live below the poverty line.
Registration for the lunches is not required; library volunteers will serve the meals on a first-come, first-served basis.
“I know for a fact that some of the children who participate in the summer feeding program would otherwise not get a solid meal for the day. Without this, these kids are not eating,” Seel said.
Some children end up purchasing junk food from the convenience store, she said, in lieu of eating lunches while their parents are working.
Seel said the library served nearly 900 lunches through last year’s program. The library receives federal reimbursement for the meals it provides.
Seel previously worked as the library’s executive director but has remained involved with the institution by organizing the meal program. She said her actions are spurred in part by the Shaler Area School District eliminating its Summer Food Service Program last year.
“With them not doing it, there’s nowhere else for the kids to go. So I think that it’s important to offer that program. We’ve tried to fund a little bit of it ourselves this year, the Friends (of Millvale Community Library) group has contributed a good amount of money toward that program as well as grants that the library received, just trying to open up the possibilities a little more to the kids.”
The Friends raised funds through its Pamela’s P&G Diner “Cakes and Shakes” event and Whimsy & Whiskey Wigle Tasting Room & Bottle Shop night at the Omni William Penn Hotel.
Seel is seeking program volunteers with PA child abuse clearances. For more information, contact library Executive Director Susan McClellan at 412-822-7081 or millvale [email protected].