TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - With kids out of school for the summer, public libraries are filling up, but not everyone is going there to read.
The Tucson Unified School District Free Summer Meals Program has expanded this year, serving children at more than 80 locations, including five local libraries: Joel Valdez, Columbus, Valencia, Quincy, and Martha Cooper.
“You can see the families are here with their kids and that’s just great,” said Pat Lopez, a regional supervisor for TUSD Food Services. “It’s been a really good opportunity for us.”
Foods like turkey, fruit and milk are all on the menu. Meals are prepared at nearby high school cafeterias before it is transported to the libraries same day. For the district and the community, serving lunch at libraries was a no-brainer.
“What better place to be?” said Lopez. “The kids are here, we can be here, it’s just a great union. It feels good knowing for those parents and kids who may not have a meal at home, they can here at no cost.”
“Having kids come here to eat also gives us the opportunity to expose them to all of the amazing literacy work we do and all the other amazing engagement we do with the community,” said Tara Foxx-Lupo, manager of the Martha Cooper Branch Public Library, which served as a test library for the program last summer.
High-schooler Juan Lopez is living, breathing proof of the programs success, volunteering at the free summer meals program after being one of the kids eating lunch here last June.
“This library has been here for me through a lot of things,” said Juan. “When times were really tough for me honestly and I really depended on this library. This is my way of saying thank you.”
For more information on TUSD’S meal schedule and other schools participating, click HERE.