Experts say family food insecurity is a big problem, especially during the summer. That's when children and families don't know when to expect their next meal, or where it's going to come from.
The Summer Food Service Program carried out by Operation Food Search is tackling summer hunger head on, serving food at a place you might not expect. The Food and Fun Club is rolling up to five St. Louis public libraries this summer, including the Carpenter branch on South Grand.
"They stop for 20 minutes at a time, and feed any child who is 18 years or younger, and that's the only qualification is their age," explained Brian Wieher, the director of child nutrition programs at Operation Food Search.
Kids aren't required to bring anything, except their appetite.
"It's important for kids to know that they've have that constant throughout the summer, to know that 'hey I can get food at this time, at this place every day,' and not have to worry about where they're going to get their food at, what they're going to eat that day," said Wieher.
The free lunch program offers a place to sit, relax and enjoy everything the library has to offer.
"It's a good way to get them in here, get them fed, and tell them about other things that we can do for them as well, and programs that we've got going on," said Wieher.
In June, workers handed out more than 1,500 meals to children, making the library a place where you can do more than check out a good book.
The Summer Food Service Program is open to anyone, from any socio-economic background. It continues through August 11.
For a list of participating libraries and locations, visit https://www.slpl.org/news/free-weekday-lunches-for-children-at-slpl-locations/.