Written by Lisa Soper, Youth Services & Programming Coordinator, Downtown Main Library
The Library is expanding our weekly boxed meal service to help area youth during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Beginning Monday, Sept. 14, Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library is distributing free boxes containing seven dinner meals and seven snacks. All items are shelf stable and ready to eat, with no refrigeration or additional preparation required.
Meal boxes are available for weekly pick-up Mondays from 3-5 p.m.
This program is open to all youth, up to age 18, and young adults ages 19-21 who are following Individualized Education Programs. For more information about eligibility, visit cincinnatilibrary.org/meals. Children do not need to be present when picking up meals. Parents or caregivers may pick up meal boxes for their children.
Meal boxes are available at the following locations, Mondays from 3-5 p.m.*
- Downtown Main Library
- Bond Hill
- Elmwood Place
- Mt. Healthy
- North Central
- Pleasant Ridge
- St. Bernard
- Walnut Hills
- West End
According to Feeding America, over 50,000 children in Hamilton County live in a food insecure household. That means one in four children are unsure of where their next meal is coming from. This insecurity has grown during the pandemic, as more families face unemployment or reduced hours. In addition, many children and families have lost sources of support that they have counted on in the past, such as meals served at schools or during after-school programs. Children facing hunger are more likely to struggle with school and exhibit behavioral problems. The Library strives to help prepare children to be successful in their education. With so many other barriers to learning right now, access to healthy food should not one of them.
How is this program funded?
These meals are made possible due to a partnership with UMC Food Ministry, which has allowed the Library to provide free meals for youth during the summer and after school for several years. So far this year, the Library has distributed more than 36,000 meals through these programs. These services are funded through the USDA's Child and Nutrition Programs, and are administered by the Ohio Department of Education. UMC Food Ministry provides meals for schools, libraries, day cares, after-school programs, and faith communities throughout the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area. They have provided millions of meals since starting operations in 2008.
For additional information about local efforts to combat food insecurity, or to find other food distribution programs, visit the Freestore Foodbank online or call 513-357-4600. United Way 211 is also available to help connect you to essential community services. Dial 211 to speak to a trained professional. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Or search their online database of providers at www.uwgc.org/211.
*Meal service locations and serving times are subject to change.