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Bozeman Public Library prepares Summer Learning Program, free lunches discontinued this year

In the past, the summer program included free lunches. This year, a change to federal program qualifications means the library will no longer be able to do that.
Posted at 4:52 PM, May 17, 2024

BOZEMAN — As Bozeman schools get ready to close shop for the summer, the Bozeman Public Library is gearing up to take over with its Summer Learning Program.

“All of our programs are based around play and joy and letting kids do what they do best, which is playing, learning, telling stories, being creative and exuberant,” said Ellie Newell, the head of youth services at the Bozeman Public Library.

Newell says there is a phenomenon out there called “the summer slide.”

It’s where kids who are not reading and learning over the course of the summer begin to lose some of their educational attainment.

“So, when kids go back to school in the fall they have to relearn things,” said Newell.

That’s where the library's summer learning program comes into play, she says.

There is a full summer itinerary at the library where not only children but people of all ages can create summer fun, diving into new experiences and skills that will last a lifetime.

“I’m excited about the STEAM or science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics programs that we’ll be offering at the library,” said Newell.

Newell says she’s also looking forward to some of the upcoming programs in collaboration with Tinworks Art, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, the Raptor Center, and the Museum of the Rockies.

For over 50 years the library has been hosting its Summer Learning Program. In the past, the program included free lunches through a federal U.S. Department of Agriculture program that is administered by the state Office of Public Instruction.

This year though, a change to federal program qualifications means the library will no longer be able to be a host site.

The program qualifies locations to give away free lunches in the summer to children based on neighborhood income.

“The library’s neighborhood is no longer eligible now,” said Newell.

But the free lunch program will still be offered at other locations in and around Bozeman, including at the Gallatin Valley Food Bank, Hyalite and Irving elementary schools, and Story Mill Park, among other locations. Click here for more information from the food bank.

Visit the Bozeman Public Library website to see the full Summer Learning schedule.