Food in the Library – Are We Crazy?
If you want boys to read, get them into the library by going after their stomachs! As part of our Extreme Library Makeover, we allow students to eat and drink in the library any time they want – even at the computers. Are we crazy? Maybe little, but heck, most adults eat and drink at their computer all the time. Are adults more careful thanks kids? In my experience I’d have to say no (this includes me).
Start with Administration:
Explain to your administration that a pancake day in the library will attract patrons and make the library an inviting place. If you haven’t already, do some research and create a library vision (read this article). If needed, ask for a trial pancake run. Maybe just one event. Take a before and after survey with staff and students. Data can a be powerful tool.
What About Our Carpet?
We average almost 200 students and staff in our library each day. Sure, we’ve had spills, but nothing that some cool water and paper towels can’t clean up in a second. Once you allow food and drinks, be sure to remind your custodians of the importance and show them your appreciation.
Preparing for the Event
Once we got our pancake system down pat, running this fun event is a piece of cake (pun intended). Basically, we schedule one every 4-6 weeks. We keep it as a surprise which alleviates pressure for us. The day before the event, I have a TA (Teacher Assistant) get everything ready. He / she sets up 2 tables – 1 for the electric cooking skillets and one for the mixing bowls and plates. The morning of the event we have a community volunteer do the cooking or use a student volunteer. We start cooking a few hours before serving and keep all the pancakes in a covered aluminum pan. As new pancakes are added, they help to keep the other ones warm. Everyone loves the pancakes, even if they are not that warm.
The Serving Line:
To avoid cutting class, students must wait until their break time to get their pancakes. We typically serve about 300 students during a one hour time frame. It is fast, crowded, and hectic – just what we want! Just before break begins, we load up a bunch of plates. Students grab a plate and then move across the library to the table section where they pile on the syrup and butter. This spreads things out and gives them a chance to sit and mingle.
We usually try to recruit a few students to get out of class to help clean up. If time runs out we just leave whatever is left in the back room and our TA cleans it in the morning.
Materials & Fees
We use profits from our Library Cafe to fund all the materials and food. Once the basic materials are gathered, the cost for consumables is very minimal. You could easily charge students $1.00 for 3 pancakes and still make a profit. Here are some materials needed:
- 2 Electric skillets. You may need to plug them in on seperate electrical outlets
- Rubber spatula, 4 pitchers, 2 huge mixing bowls, blender
- Krusteaz pancake mix (just add water) $5.59 per bag. We can feed 300 students and staff on about 5 bags! Students like the pancakes more when we the batter is thin.
- Margarine & Syrup
- Paper plates, plastic forks, plastic butter knives, napkins
Our Students and Staff LOVE it!
Believe me when I tell you that students and staff ABSOLUTELY LOVE AND APPRECIATE FREE PANCAKES! I can’t tell you how many compliments and thank yous we get from everyone. Our students and staff think that we have the best library in the world. This attitude carries over throughout the school year. With the right attitude about a library, students can become life long library patrons (and readers).
Any Library Can Offer Pancakes
It doesn’t matter if you are a public or school library, high school or elementary. All you need is approval from your administration and the right attitude. You may be surprised at the impact it will make.
Let’s Hear From You
Have you participated in a food event in a library? What concerns or issues may get in the way of you giving it a try? Let us know.