When Erin Collins started working at the Whitney Library in 2011, she noticed something surprising. Rather than briefly dropping by the library to browse and check out books, many kids stayed all day during the summer. Some showed up by themselves in the morning and left by themselves at closing time, well into the evening. The pattern continued during the school year, with some kids arriving directly from school and leaving when the library closed. The library was their safe space while their parents worked, she realized. Even more surprising was the fact that these children never left for lunch or snacks. Occasionally a child would ask the staff for food, leading Collins to assume that many more were silently hungry. Collins was aware that some children and families must struggle with hunger in this transient community – there are several nearby motels advertising weekly and monthly rates – but she felt powerless to help.
Then an opportunity presented itself. Three Square Food Bank, one of the largest non-profit sponsors of afterschool and summer meals in the Las Vegas area, agreed to provide meals over the summer. A few years later, after Collins became the Youth Services Department Head, the opportunity extended to afterschool meals during the school year.
Read the case study to learn how the Whitney Library and Three Square Food Bank have made this work.