No More Hungry Kids

A summertime meal program for kids is kicking off with a concert series. Here, children at Grogan Park in Santa Maria enjoy a chicken chipotle wrap with music provided by 95.7 The Beat. | Credit: Jacqueline Pilar for Foodbank of Santa Barbara County

Schoolkids can get free, healthy meals in 52 locations this summer through a countywide effort addressing the hunger epidemic. All kids 18 and under are eligible, and adults are welcome to a plate for only $4 at some sites. No paperwork, no hassle, and music is frequently included, too!

Many sites around the county are open for an hour Monday through Friday to serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, or afternoon snacks. An array of carefully crafted food is served — recent menu items have included delicious chicken chipotle wraps with a side of mandarin orange-cabbage slaw and tortilla chips, turkey pasta salads, and roast turkey subs.

The summer food is offered to alleviate parents’ worry when free and reduced-price school lunch programs end — programs that serve roughly 34,000 children in the county, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara reports on its website. The community’s summer efforts are meant to address this need and help kids experience care-free relaxation instead of June gloom.

Although there are too many meal sites to list here, they run the gamut of libraries, schools, parks, and residential neighborhoods. People can text SUMMERFOOD to 877-877 for nearby locations, or check-out the Foodbank’s downloadable directory of all 52 sites. They’ll be open until the new school year begins in August.

Last Thursday, No Kid Hungry and community partners like the Santa Barbara Unified School District, the City of Santa Barbara, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, and the Community Action Commission, launched their seventh “Summer Meal Concert Series” in support of this season’s program. Events add to vacation fun while kids fill up with yummy, yet nutritious food. Entertainers like DJ Hecktik are set to perform, as well as local kid talent like the band Jumpstart and the Rockshop Academy’s young musicians. The next event happens Tuesday, June 25, at Bohnett Park, noon-1 p.m. (602 W. Anapamu St.).

In its ninth year, Foodbank’s Picnic in the Park lunch program arrives to 17 of the 52 sites running June through August. Foodbank representative Judith Smith- Meyer said their crowd-pleasing “Blender Bike” sometimes makes an appearance at these events. By pushing the pedals, kids power up a smoothie blender, then drink the fruity results. These park lunches really “draw in a lot of the community,” Smith-Meyer said happily in a phone interview. Additionally, much of the produce provided at Foodbank locations is grown locally thanks to donors in the area.

Although these meal events are only part of the solution to hunger countywide, their community reach is on the rise. Foodbank of Santa Barbara, for example, offers “20 percent more sites than last year,” Smith-Meyer said. The effect is noticeable and is scheduled to continue for the foreseeable future.

4•1•1 | The complete list of Picnic in the Park dates and locations are at the Foodbank of Santa Barbara website here.

Summer Meal Concert Series Dates

Tuesday, June 25, noon-1 p.m.
United Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara County Westside Unit / Bohnett Park Blacktop
602 West Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara
Dance Party with DJ Hecktik

Tuesday, July 9, noon-1 p.m.
Carp Middle School
5351 Carpinteria Ave, Carpinteria, CA 93013
Dance Party with DJ Hecktik

Thursday, July 11, noon-1 p.m.
United Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara County Westside Unit / Bohnett Park Blacktop
602 West Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara
Performance by the musicians of Rockshop Academy

Thursday, July 18, 12:30 -1:30 p.m.
United Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara County Goleta Unit
5701 Hollister Avenue, Goleta
Dance Party with DJ Hecktik

Thursday, July 25, noon-1 p.m.
Franklin Elementary School / Cafeteria
1111 East Mason Street
Performance by the band JumpStart


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