St. Louis County Library is pleased to announce that it has received the Missouri Library Association’s Community Partnership Award for 2017. The library was recognized for its partnership with Operation Food Search, a non-profit organization working to end hunger in the greater St. Louis area. The award was presented to Library Director Kristen Sorth and Sunny Schaefer, Executive Director of Operation Food Search at the association’s annual conference held this October in St. Louis.
SLCL has been working with Operation Food Search (OFS) for many years. In 2017, the library collaborated on three important projects with OFS: the Summer Lunch Program; Food for Fines; and Choice: Healthy Living for Seniors. The Summer Lunch Program supplies lunches and activities for children Monday through Friday during the summer months. In 2017, seven library branches hosted the lunch program, feeding 15,329 children. Every Thursday, participating families were given a backpack full of nutritious, easy-to-prepare meals for the weekend.
The second collaboration took place during National Library Week in April. Food For Fines allows patrons with overdue material to reduce their fine total by one dollar for every can donated. All the donated food goes to Operation Food Search. In 2017 alone, 17,779 pounds of food were donated via Food For Fines. A second annual food drive takes place every November through December. In 2016, this food drive collected 1,734 pounds of food, and since 2010, the drive has collected a total of 36,302 pounds of food for OFS.
OFS is also a contributor to the SLCL program series Choice: Healthy Living for Seniors. Each week at five different SLCL branches, seniors explore relevant topics of interest such as healthy eating, scam prevention, yoga, and retirement. OFS has helped this series by presenting a program called Cooking Matters at the Store wherein participants can practice food shopping skills in a mock grocery store tour.
The partnership between St. Louis County Library and Operation Food Search has been mutually beneficial and proven valuable to countless members of the community. SLCL is grateful to the Missouri Library Association for acknowledging its value with the 2017 Partnership Award.