Last Friday afternoon, under the glare of the midday sun, more than 100 Santa Barbara kids descended on the Westside’s Bohnett Park for a picnic and concert with some serious heart. The event, the first of four Friday afternoon shows to take place over the next four weeks, is being spearheaded by Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, a nationwide initiative that’s helping to ensure that all children get “the healthy food they need, every day.” As such, every child who showed up to rock out was also fed, courtesy of the Santa Barbara school district.
Created and led by a collection of citizens, public officials, nonprofit organizations, and business leaders known as the No Kid Hungry network, the campaign hit Santa Barbara County last month with no small amount of pomp and circumstance, thanks to national spokesperson — and Santa Barbara resident — Jeff Bridges. In June, Bridges showed up at McKinley Elementary to announce the arrival of S.B.’s own Food4Kids campaign, which allows low-income families to use text messaging to find nearby places that provide free meals — an especially crucial tool now that schools are out and lunches are no longer being provided outside the home.
Of course, this being Bridges, there’s also an element of fun being thrown into the mix — which is where the concerts come in. On Friday, that meant performances by S.B. youth bands State of Grace and The Voice of Reason, who played through the lunchtime hour and even got the post-mealtime crowd up and dancing. By the end of the show, the kids, who flocked from camp programs at Santa Barbara Parks & Rec and the Santa Barbara Boys & Girls Club, were cartwheeling, break dancing, and running conga lines around the park, proving in no small (or quiet) way that No Kid Hungry not only works — it rocks.
Food4Kids’ Friday lunchtime concert series continues July 26 at Bohnett Park (1201 San Pascual St.) with The Wha Wha’s and Nevermind. For more on the No Kid Hungry campaign, visit nokidhungry.org.