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?