Montclair Library and Toni's Kitchen Promote Healthy Habits
Peter Coyl, Director of the Montclair Public Library, and Anne Mernin, Director of Toni’s Kitchen, explain how their partnership is not just feeding children healthy lunches, but is encouraging reading and learning throughout the summer months.
"We're pleased to be joined by Anne Mernin, who is the director of a great organization called Toni's Kitchen, and Peter Coyl, who is the director of the Montclair Public Library, where our kids have been going for a long time and learning. I want to thank you very much. This is an interesting discussion that talks about a collaboration that the two of you have to help deal with issues of food insecurity, and other related issues, connected to the Partners For Health, which is a foundation based in the Montclair area. Right. What's the collaboration? Well, the library is a natural gathering place for kids. Montclair kids are well enrolled in the library. And use it quite heavily. And we know there are a lot of low income kids that use the library during the Summer, when they're not getting school breakfast, or school lunch. So it's a really nice partnership to be able to provide food while the kids are also exploring the books, and doing some cool projects. So how does that work? So the children are in the library? Mm hmm. And these are children that have been selected already? No, it's open to any child in the library. Yep, we... Any child in the library during the Summer months? During the Summer, yep. So we've been doing it for two and a half weeks. And what's the "it"? We provide a free lunch from 12 to 2 that Toni's Kitchen gives us everyday. And by the way, I've been to Toni's Kitchen, describe it for folks who don't know it, and why it's so great. Sure. Well it's great because of the community we're in, and how well they support us, and allow us to do the work we do. We serve healthy food on site four days a week. And we're there seven days a week, we do a lot of our food work in the community now. Isn't it interesting how some people think, Peter and Anne, that hunger does not somehow... it doesn't exist in the Summer? I think a lot of people think it doesn't exist at all. I think people would be surprised. But during the Summer, it's especially a hard thing, you know. Anne talked about the number of students, it's 14 and a half percent of the Montclair public school students who are eligible. What? 963 students? Mm hmm. Yeah. You know, it's so interesting, because Montclair is seen by some, for those of us who live there, you know it pretty well, as an affluent community. It's seen as an affluent... Sure. ...extremely comfortable community. Yeah. And lots of folks from New York coming in... Mm hmm. ...with a few..."