It’s lunchtime, and about 40 kids are munching away on pizza, with some carrots and fruit, and washing it down with juice. But, the lunch is taking place in an unexpected place: Ventura’s Avenue Library.
A new program which kicked off this week is providing lunches to kids who might otherwise go without lunch during summer.
The Avenue Library program is a partnership with the Ventura County Library system, the Ventura Unified School District and Ventura County Public Health.
The program is open to children and teens. Kids under eight need to be accompanied by an adult. Most of the kids here today are preschoolers and young elementary school students. After they eat, they go into the main library area, where it’s story time, followed by arts and crafts projects. The hope is to feed tummies, and brains.
While the Avenue Library lunch program is new, it joins many established summer meal programs on the Central and South Coasts. Between the region’s schools, health agencies, and non-profit groups like “No Kid Hungry”, there are more than 100 summer meal program locations in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.
They include places like schools, community centers, housing complex and Boys and Girls Clubs. Virtually all of the programs do lunch, but some also offer breakfast, or afternoon snacks.
They share the common goal of making sure that kids from low income families won’t go hungry because school is out, and they don’t have accesses to subsidized meal programs.