At local libraries you'll find children reading to dogs, lawyers dispensing free legal advice, and even people playing ping-pong. But perhaps one of the most innovative and relevant uses of the library in recent years is the offering of free lunches to kids during the summer. The ongoing partnership between the Oakland Public Library and the Alameda County Community Food Bank provides free cold lunches to youths under the age of eighteen, Monday through Friday, allowing hungry kids to concentrate on reading and other activities while they're at the library. It's a response to the ongoing problem of children who rely on subsidized meals at school during the academic year who have less access to food during the summer. About 7,000 meals were served last summer; this year the library expects to serve even more, and other library systems have taken notice. This year, Oakland Public Library staffers will act as advisers to library systems in San Diego, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Fresno, as they launch their own pilot programs.
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