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Books and Bites returns to support Rowan County youth

SALISBURY — For the second year in a row, Rowan Public Library and the Rowan-Salisbury Schools Summer Feeding Program are bringing the weekly “Books and Bites” to area students.

The program, which began June 12, runs through Aug. 4.

In this partnership, the “books” work to stem the tide of “summer slide,” which can negatively affect students’ learning for months into the new school year. Meanwhile, the “bites” meet a more immediate need — ensuring that students receive at least one nutritious meal every weekday while school is not in session.

Melissa Oleen, library services manager, said 165 children and teenagers participated last year and logged over 5,000 reading hours.

“We’re hoping to double the number of participants this year,” Oleen said.

Because of last year’s strong response, “the library has added two additional sites and extended the program by another week,” she said. This summer, Books and Bites operates five days a week, visiting 10 sites per week for seven weeks.

“Books and Bites” visits select Rowan-Salisbury mobile meal sites. After the meal has been served, children and teens can attend a short program and check out books from the library’s bookmobile. They log reading hours and earn prizes just as other Rowan Public Library Summer Reading participants do.

Outreach programs like Books and Bites are important because they give students unable to visit a library during the summer access to materials to increase reading opportunities and provide positive, fun experiences, Oleen said.

“Our goal is the same as last year: to provide kids a variety of reading materials during the summer that they otherwise would not be able to access,” she said.

The service is one that, according to feedback from last year, participants appreciate.

One wrote, “I like to talk to the library teachers and get books and getting to ask questions and it (helped) me read more.”

An 11-year-old said, “I liked it because it helps my reading grow and helps me learn.” A 6-year-old’s feedback was, “It was fun to pick books to take home to show Mommy.”

Many also enjoyed the Summer Reading Program tie-ins.

One student said, “I liked it because you can get prizes, and it helps us read over the summer.”

Selection of the sites was based on several criteria, including open meal sites not offering fee-based summer camps and programs, distance from a Rowan Public Library branch, the ability to serve more than one site per day, and past attendance.

On Mondays, the program will visit Pine Hill Apartments, 410 W. 15th St., for breakfast and Pearl Street Apartments, Pearl Street and Morlan Park Road, for lunch. Tuesdays will see staff at Grant Street Community Center, 300 Grant St. in East Spencer, for breakfast and Matika Mobile Home Park, Airport Road and Sarah Ellen Lane, for lunch.

At lunch on Wednesdays, Books and Bites will be at Oak Mountain Mobile Home Park on Oak Mountain Road and Goodnight Road and Oak Haven Mobile Home Park, 775 Airport Road. On Thursday mornings, the program will be at Cleveland Town Hall, 302 E. Main St., Cleveland, for the 10 a.m. Summer Reading Program. Then, it will visit the school system mobile meal site at 140 Titan Drive for lunch. Friday visits are to the East Lafayette community, 1042 E. Lafayette St., for breakfast and the mobile meal site at Dunnsview Drive and Harris Granite Road for lunch.

For more information, contact Melissa Oleen at 704-216-8245 about Books and Bites and Meredith Honeycutt at 704-630-6047 about the Summer Feeding Program.

To learn more about Rowan Public Library services and programs, visit www.RowanPublicLibrary.org.

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