MIDLAND, Texas — Children and their parents may enjoy a free meal and additional programming this summer at Midland County Public Libraries, 301 W. Missouri Ave. 

The Library Lunches program runs May 28 through August 9 in the newly renovated downtown library’s children’s activity room. Lunch will be served from noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.

This will mark the third year the library has partnered with West Texas Food Bank to ensure all children have access to food during summer vacation. 

The two organizations first collaborated in 2017 and joined forces with the Museum of the Southwest last year when the downtown library was closed for renovations. The downtown library again will serve as a Summer Food Service Program site. 

All Midland County children are welcome to participate in Library Lunches without reservations or pre-registration.

 “Summer is the busiest time of the year for the West Texas Food Bank and having the opportunity to go ‘where the kids are’ is fundamental to the way the Summer Food Service Program works," said Libby Campbell, executive director of West Texas Food Bank.

"We are excited to be in our third year of partnership with the Midland County Library, and we cannot wait to see how well this program functions in the new space downtown.”

This year, thanks to the generosity of a local family, Library Lunches will include free meals for the parents/guardians who accompany their children. The program also includes activities and presentations for both children and adults such as Summer Reading themed crafts, nutrition workshops and budgeting classes.

 “The Library Lunches program aims to serve the whole family with food for their bodies and their minds,” said John Trischitti III, director of Midland County Public Libraries. 

“In addition to a healthy meal, participants will take away information on community resources, literacy, safety and more. We are excited to bring in program partners including Frost Bank, Museum of the Southwest, Sibley Nature Center and others to create a unique and comprehensive library experience for these patrons.”

The library hopes to be a beacon of light to the underserved population in Midland.

"We want to be sure to reach those families that may live in food insecure households," said Megan Buck the Social Impact and Community Engagement Coordinator.

"We want to reach families with children with special needs. We have sensory friendly programming on our summer calendar. We want to make sure we reach veterans, we want to make sure we reach for people facing homelessness and any other issues in Midland County," said Buck. 

According to Texas Education Association data, nearly half of students enrolled in Midland ISD qualify for reduced-price or free lunches. Numerous studies link hunger to academic performance, and more specifically, to literacy. 

Libraries around the nation have added free lunch components to their summer reading programs, collaborating with organizations that fight hunger both on a local and national level. In Midland, library officials hope the Library Lunches program will not only help fight food insecurity in Midland County, but also promote literacy and library usage in the community. 

In 2017, Midland County Public Libraries’ downtown location provided more than 2,000 free meals to children and saw a 17 percent increase in summer foot traffic compared to the previous year.