If you’re hungry, send a text. That’s The Dude’s message for kids and their families this summer in Santa Barbara. Leading efforts at the national level is Academy Award–winning actor Jeff Bridges, who has dedicated decades to combating child hunger across the U.S. Bridges, a Santa Barbara resident, teamed up with S.B.-native Laura Burton Capps, a consultant for area nonprofits and daughter to Representative Lois Capps.
No Kid Hungry, a nationwide effort to ensure all kids are fed, is supporting Food4Kids, a campaign to tell children where to go for free meals across Santa Barbara County. The program kicked off Thursday afternoon with live music — and samples — at Franklin Elementary School. This summer is the second during which 33 sites in the county will offer free meals for all kids.
The program is to ensure that students who receive a free or reduced lunch during the school year are also fed during summer months. The latest stats show 22,000 kids are not getting the meals they need, Bridges said Thursday, surrounded by elementary school kids. Bridges explained the sites will be set up like festivities, as young bands — like Stolen Thunder, which played Thursday — will perform. He emphasized that all students can eat — “no questions asked” — and paperwork is not required. (During the school year, families have to fill out paperwork to receive a free or reduced meal, which school administrators believe deters some eligible students from signing up.)
Santa Barbara Unified School District provides the labor — and gets to keep some kitchen staff during the summer months — and the grub. Cheeseburger, pork chile verde burrito, grilled cheese sandwich, and chicken caesar salad are on the menu and come with a small cookie and a watermelon agua fresca. The federal government reimburses the district for the cost. Students can text Food4Kids to 877-877 to find a site in their neighborhood.