Day: June 4, 2021

Why more public libraries are doubling as food distribution hubs

The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank held a distribution event at the LA county library’s headquarters on Jan. 22, 2021. Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group via Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

by Noah Lenstra (University of North Carolina – Greensboro)

In the summer of 2021, public libraries everywhere, from Idaho and Oklahoma to Tennessee and Arizona, will offer free meals to families with children in their local communities.

What might look like a new role for libraries builds on their long tradition of serving as innovation spaces, community centers and sanctuaries for people who are homeless or mentally ill.

I’ve been researching how public libraries address food insecurity – what happens when households can’t acquire adequate food because they can’t afford it or can’t access it for other reasons. Across the board, these efforts emerge from community partnerships with organizations that include school districts and food banks.

As Kristin Warzocha, president of the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, explained in 2016, “We have the food, and they have the patrons who need it.”

Libraries have been fighting food insecurity for years.

Lunch at the library

The earliest example of this kind I’ve found dates back 35 years. In 1986, the Nelsonville branch of the Athens County Public Library in southeastern Ohio began serving federally funded lunches in the summertime to children to ensure that they don’t go hungry.

That county has one of Ohio’s highest food-insecurity rates, which helps explain why librarians there sought to provide food access in tandem with summer learning activities.

By 2019, over 2,000 U.S. public libraries – about 1 in 10 – served summer meals.

This practice has largely remained below the radar. The official magazine of the American Library Association didn’t mention this trend until 2008. Since then, though, growing state and national recognition and support has begun to emerge.

The COVID-19 pandemic

When the coronavirus pandemic got underway, public libraries and their staff continued to fight food insecurity, even when their doors were closed.

Some library workers were reassigned to food banks to help process and distribute donations. Others worked with food banks to hand out grab-and-go meals in library parking lots.

Still others established emergency food pantries at libraries.

In St. Louis, the county public library system took part in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers to Families program. Libraries everywhere, from Kentucky and Vermont to California and Georgia, participated in the emergency national food distribution program too.

Many libraries have started to host small food pantries located outdoors, in little boxes with doors. These sharing boxes are modeled on the “little free library” movement. These micro-libraries are usually simple cabinets fastened to posts and stocked with books anyone passing by can take for free. The little free pantry movement, which began in 2016 and seems to have expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic, instead seeks to dispatch food to those in need.

In 2021, by the middle of May, at least 491 libraries in 28 states had made plans to serve meals to schoolchildren during their summer vacations. This number is only preliminary and will rise once more states report their data to the USDA.

Noah Lenstra, Assistant Professor of Library and Information Science, University of North Carolina – Greensboro

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

New research may explain shortages in STEM careers

Read the full story from the University of Georgia.

A new study revealed that more college students change majors within the STEM pipeline than leave the career path of science, technology, engineering and mathematics altogether.

To enhance creativity, keep your research team fresh

Read the full story from Bar-Ilan University.

Network scientists address the effect of team freshness on the originality and multidisciplinary impact of produced work, by systematically investigating prior collaboration relations between team members. Among other things, their study reveals that papers of fresher teams are significantly more effective than those of older teams in creating studies of higher originality and greater multidisciplinary impact.

STEM jobs see uneven progress in increasing gender, racial and ethnic diversity

Read the full story from the Pew Research Center.

Chart showing detailed data of representation of Black, Hispanic, Asian, other, and White workers in STEM workforce

Black and Hispanic workers remain underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce compared with their share of all workers, including in computing jobs, which have seen considerable growth in recent years.

The representation of women varies widely across STEM occupations. Women make up a large majority of all workers in health-related jobs, but remain underrepresented in other job clusters, such as the physical sciences, computing and engineering.

Current trends in STEM degree attainment appear unlikely to substantially narrow these gaps, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of federal employment and education data. Black and Hispanic adults are less likely to earn degrees in STEM than other degree fields, and they continue to make up a lower share of STEM graduates relative to their share of the adult population. And while women now earn a majority of all undergraduate and advanced degrees, they remain a small share of degree earners in fields like engineering and computer science – areas where they are significantly underrepresented in the work force.

Satellites may have underestimated warming in the lower atmosphere

Read the full story from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

New research by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) climate scientists and collaborators shows that satellite measurements of the temperature of the troposphere (the lowest region of the atmosphere) may have underestimated global warming over the last 40 years.

Communicating Science LibGuide

I developed the Communicating Science LibGuide to help the Prairie Research Institute‘s researchers more effectively communicate their expertise and the impact of their work. Although there are some resources that are specific to the Institute and the University of Illinois, most of the material included in the guide will be useful for any science communicator.

Contact me if you have a favorite resource that I missed.

Reshore, Reroute, Rebalance: A U.S. Strategy for Clean Energy Supply Chains

Download the document.

This report looks at how the United States can strengthen supply chains for clean energy technologies through the lens of industrial competition, cybersecurity and trade policy. It finds that the United States can apply some of the mental models, tools, and institutions used for conventional energy sources to think about supply chains in clean energy—and grow its economy and boost its national security in doing so.

Camera traps find endangered dryas monkeys

Read the full story from Florida Atlantic University.

The Endangered dryas monkey is one of Africa’s most mysterious primates. They are difficult to find because they live in dense vegetation in secondary forest thickets. Using non-invasive research and no-flash camera traps from 2014 to 2019, scientists have confirmed the occurrence of the dryas monkey at seven locations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo spanning a total area of 3,453 square kilometers, based on opportunistic reports provided by local village residents and park patrols.

Kellogg enters growing sustainability bond market with €300 million offering

Read the full story at ESG Today.

Convenience and snack food company Kellogg announced today the launch of its inaugural sustainability bond issue, with the pricing of a €300 million 8-year bond, with a 0.5% interest coupon. Proceeds from the issue will be used to fund sustainability initiatives at the company ranging from food security to climate action.

Kellogg’s inaugural sustainability bond issue comes as the sustainable finance market is experiencing substantial growth. According to a report issued by Moody’s Investors Service earlier this week, global sustainable bond issuance reached a record $231 billion in Q1 2021, more than triple the same quarter last year. Amazon also launched its inaugural sustainability bond issue this week, with a $1 billion offering.

This innovative project fuses journalism and music to highlight lawlessness at sea

Read the full story from the World Economic Forum.

Environmental crimes and human rights abuses are rife at sea and their offshore status means they’re largely hidden from the world. The Outlaw Ocean Project is a journalistic non-profit that raises awareness about these crimes using both traditional and original models of storytelling. Sharing the soundtrack through streaming platforms widens the potential audience and opens up revenue channels to fund further investigations.

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