Katherine Zavala, Library associate, poses by the new Cobb County Library System bookmobile at a MUST Ministries Summer Lunch distribution stop.

The MUST Ministries Summer Lunch program is pairing up with the Cobb County Library System in a pilot program this summer.

A new bookmobile, manned by a bilingual media specialist, will bring sack lunches and age-appropriate books to at-risk children.

“On Fridays, the bookmobile is distributing on two of our routes in the Smyrna area,” said Dr. Ike Reighard, president and CEO of MUST. “Library staff and MUST volunteers meet in housing areas where children in need receive both a lunch and a book. The youngest children often gather in small groups and listen to older children read stories.”

MUST collects the books all year and the Cobb County Library System supplied expert media specialists to sort them in the MUST Donation Center and prepare them for this trial program. “We couldn’t believe how quickly that team organized and sorted thousands of books,” Reighard said. “They are definitely professionals.”

The children have always received books as a gift from MUST, but this year the books are organized by reading level and are better suited for distribution, Reighard said. He also said MUST hopes to expand the use of library resources and expertise as the partnership grows.

The bookmobile team is also inviting families to an evening program at the Tillman House Resource Center, 940 Concord Road SE in Smyrna. The free event, featuring dinner, fun and learning, will be July 8 at 6 p.m. and sponsored by Cobb County Public Library System, Cobb County School System and MUST Ministries Summer Lunch.

“We are very grateful for the partnership with MUST that makes this program possible,” said Lisa Cleary, Community Engagement manager for the library system.

Despite some issues with the health department not allowing MUST volunteers to make sandwiches for the children this season, MUST has been able to purchase sandwiches and feed 6,000 to 7,000 children a day.

“The community has been amazingly generous in helping us fund this important feeding program,” Reighard said.

MUST anticipates feeding more than 200,000 meals in seven counties during the summer vacation.