September is Hunger Action Month, and the Christian County Library is joining with other Christian County organizations like Least of These and the City of Nixa to combat food insecurity and hunger in Christian County by launching a new program the library calls “Our Shared Shelf.” The Ozark and Nixa Branch Libraries now each feature a small shelving unit stocked with healthy, library-appropriate snacks, heartier shelf-stable food, and a variety of basic hygiene items that are available for anyone with a need to take. This month the shelves are stocked with donations from library staff, but the library welcomes residents and businesses to sponsor the shelf to help keep it continually stocked.
“People traditionally think of the library as offering books and promoting literacy, but we think it’s important that we see literacy as a holistic enterprise that depends on making sure our neighbors in the community have access to materials and the basic needs that allow them to thrive inside and outside of the library stacks,” said library Executive Director Geri Godber. Our Shared Shelf is a small thing the library can do to combat hunger, but it may also serve to connect residents with hunger or food insecurity to Christian County organizations suited to assist with that need in a more lasting way, like Least of These.
The library recently began a very successful partnership with Least of These, Christian County’s food pantry, after donating their $500 prize money for reading more than one million minutes during the Winter Reading Challenge to Least of These in January of 2019. At the Least of These facility in Ozark, the library maintains a shelf of free books for families to read and take home while they wait to register for services, and every branch of the Christian County library is also now a location for picking up Least of These applications.
Local businesses can have a critical role in combating hunger too. Our Shared Shelf at the Nixa Branch Library was purchased with the proceeds from the first monthly fundraiser for the library at Marcos Pizza. The third Thursday of each month, Marcos will be donating 10% of the day’s profits to support Youth and Family Services at Christian County Library Nixa Branch. Marco’s manager, Jon Schend is keenly aware of the connection between hunger, nutrition, and literacy and in addition to giving monthly donations to the library also regularly donate free pizza coupons for Our Shared Shelf. Schend explained that Marcos partnered with the library because he shares the belief that the responsibility of local business and local government is not just about profits or numbers, but about making the community stronger and ensuring that every family and every child has the resources they need to thrive.