In April 2017, Central Rappahannock Regional Library received the Virginia Public Library Directors Association's Better Together Award for our robust community food initiatives.
CRRL reaches members of our community in a variety of ways with creative programming and through our large and diverse network of partnerships. Three CRRL locations - Porter, Salem Church, and Howell branches - operate community vegetable gardens with staff and volunteers growing food to donate.*
The library also participates in area food drives, such as CANstruction, and hosts an annual Food for Fines week, giving customers the opportunity to donate food in place of paying overdue fines. The non-perishable donations benefit local agencies including S.E.R.V.E., the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank, and Spotsylvania Emergency Concerns Association (SECA).
Recognizing that childhood hunger is a particular problem for our area, CRRL partnered with Fredericksburg City Schools in 2015 to serve as a summer “Mobile Cafe” site. In 2016, Salem Church Branch was selected as a summer feeding site for the USDA-funded “Kids on the Go” program operated by the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank. Additionally, Howell Branch partnered with the Heartwood Center to offer “2-day bags” of easily prepared, individual serving-sized food in the summer to Stafford County children who qualify for free or reduced lunch through their schools.
To complement the summer food programs, CRRL also reaches area residents with tables at local farmers’ markets and, in partnership with the Dr. Yum Project, provides coupons to those markets as summer reading prizes.
An important component to any nutrition-based initiative is education, and CRRL meets that challenge in different ways. We offer library programs on topics ranging from gardening to adult cooking classes on how to make bread and homemade jam. And, CRRL employees serve as advocates for meeting the nutritional needs of our community and have presented aspects of CRRL’s Community Food Initiative at statewide conferences for organizations such as Virginia Partnership for Out-of-School Time and the Virginia Library Association.
*So far in 2018, CRRL community gardens have donated over 5,000 lbs of food to local food banks.