The Terrebonne Parish Library System, in partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank, brings back their Summer Feeding Program for 2019 (Jun 3 – July 26).
Various branches of the library host scheduled story times and provide free nutritional lunch packs for youth 18 years old and younger.
“We recognized that there was a definite need during the summer for our area to have lunch meals. For a lot of the kids in our parish, their ability to have their free lunches at school during the school year is very important for their family,” said Kati Callais, Community Outreach Coordinator for Terrebonne Parish Library System. “We had been looking into ways to be able to do that, but of course, we are a library – so we’re a little limited on space and resources.”
The Library then learned about Second Harvest — the food bank based out of New Orleans — and began their partnership with them in 2017.
“One of the requirements with Second Harvest, because it’s funded through the Department of Education, is that all the meals have to coincide with some type of enrichment, which is why they wanted to be able to start working with libraries,” Callais explained. “So, we paired it [the free lunches] with their summer story times. Basically, the kids would come; we would have story time, a craft, and then a picnic at the library.”
The free pre-packaged meals typically consist of five items that cover all the major food groups. Only library staff members that went through a special training program can handle the food.
For that pilot summer, the Library held the program once a week at only three branches: East Houma, Dulac and Gibson; however, the program was still able to serve 552 meals.
Going off the success of its first year, the Library was able to expand to seven of its nine branches (Main, North, East Houma, Chauvin, Dularge, Dulac and Gibson) the following year – each doing it once week. They were then able to distribute 680 meals.
This summer, three of the seven branches (Main, North and Dulac), will provide the lunches twice a week.
The full schedule is as followed: Main Branch — Wednesdays at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.; North Branch — Mondays at 3 p.m. and Tuesdays at 10 a.m.; Dulac Branch — Mondays and Wednesdays at 12 p.m.; East Houma Branch — Thursdays at 10 a.m.; Chauvin Branch — Thursdays at 2 p.m.; Dularge Branch — Mondays at 3:30 p.m.; Gibson Branch — Tuesdays at 2:45 p.m.
“We’ve had a really good response from the community,” Callais said. “Libraries are about community. This is our community, and we’re going to take care of it to the best of our abilities.”
Other entities in the area have that same sentiment of taking care of the community and doing their part to fight hunger locally.
The Dularge Recreation Center and Lafourche Parish Library have both recently partnered up with Second Harvest.
Fletcher Technical Community College and Nicholls State University both opened up food pantries for their students, part of a nationwide initiative to help college students who are struggling to feed themselves.
“Fletcher Technical Community College is proud to open a new food pantry for our students,” said Fletcher Chancellor Dr. Kristine Strickland in a statement released by the college. “We know that 36 percent of all college students experience food insecurity and in the State of Louisiana that number is even higher. This pantry will provide students the opportunity to find nutritious food offerings for themselves and their families…” •