Feeding teens

Photo by altair toyZZ

Unlike almost every other level of programming at the library, we teen librarians nearly always must have food. It’s simply not a question – these kids are hungry! I take it up another notch simply because a lot of the teens that come to my 6:00 program often come straight to the library after school without a snack – & some of them didn’t even get to eat lunch. Same goes for Saturday programs – they show up right after breakfast at 9:30am & then stay all day, sometimes without even a dollar to go grab something from Burger King.

But here’s the thing – you can serve something other than pizza. For some reason, pizza seems to be the default food offered to teens, but personally, I find it cost prohibitive! The only program that gets pizza is the Teen Advisory Board, & that’s $25 with delivery & tip for three mediums. If I did that for my big programs… let’s just say we’d be doing a lot less of them!

I’d like to encourage everyone to think outside the box & offer something different to their teens, especially if, as I’ve found, feeding these hungry creatures can get rather expensive fast!

My weekly program gets a snack – usually either pretzels or animal crackers, although sometimes they get cookies instead. It’s usually about $1.50 to 2.00 to feed 15-20 of them each week – I rely on the Target generic section for their goodies.

Our anime club usually gets pocky, cup o’noodle ramen, or rice & nori. Three of our annual programs for this club involve food, though, so that’s easy – candy sushi, bento boxes, & the ramen noodle eating contest.

As for other events, it usually depends on what’s going on. For Breaking Dawn, we had wedding cake. Our Chinese New Year’s Party had the teens eating well with dim sum, fried rice, & oranges. We serve hot dogs at our Summer Finale Party; at Hunger Games they’ll be eating granola bars, trail mix, beef jerky, apples, & other “survivalist” type stuff.

But even I fall into the trap of cheap food – thinking a bag of chips is the cheapest way to go when the $3.99 to buy the big bag of Doritos could have been spent on a bag of apples instead. Going into the future, I’m definitely going to try & expand my mind on what we could spend our money on. Sandwich platters? Party packs of tacos? Veggie trays? We had nachos at an event last year, & they LOVED that – salsa, cheese, & chips from GFS was definitely less than the $25 pizza order.

Let’s feed these teens something new & think outside the pizza box! What ideas do you have?

2 thoughts on “Feeding teens”

  1. I love that you’re thinking about this too…I recently made a promise to myself that I would only offer snacks at the library that I would be willing to feed to my own daughter. And since I’m kind of a granola hippy freak mom, this is challenging! For my writer’s group I changed the hot chocolate from those yucky pre-mixed packets to an organic brand that only cost $1 more. We had spaghetti tacos recently at a TAB event and those were surprisingly inexpensive (and highly yummy) for 15 kids (about $8 total for shells, pasta and a jar of organic sauce). I’m only offering ice water in a big pitcher now (no plastic bottles) and I haven’t had one complaint as long as there is something good to eat! This not only saves money for higher quality food, but makes me feel better about less sugar.

  2. This is one of my issues, too, and one I need to work on for money reasons as well as health. I have been adding grapes to my anime club offerings, which was well received by a couple of girls but that was all. I’m curious to know if your teens eat the granola and trail mix stuff, because when i offered it at my hunger games programs, no one touched it. ;-( Now if it had been the ONLY food there, I suppose they might have…maybe that’s my problem.

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