For some students who rely on their schools to provide daily meals during the academic year, that source can dry up like a Central Coast creek in the summer.
That’s when a coalition of school districts, cities and nonprofit organizations step up to keep the food flowing, in some cases along with music from live musicians or DJs.
“While some districts continue to provide summer lunches, there are some that shut down services, and the Foodbank jumps in to serve all children in the area,” said Judith Smith-Meyer, senior communications manager for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, which offers its Picnic in the Park program each summer.
“Or in some cases, we fill gaps where kids might have to travel too far from home to pick up school lunch,” she said.
Free summer meals now are being provided to youths age 18 and younger at nearly 50 locations in Santa Barbara County.
No registration and no paperwork are required for students to pick up healthy grab-and-go meals, organizers said.
“Picnic in the Park lunches always include a healthy protein, fresh fruit and veggies, and milk,” said Smith-Meyer, adding that the Foodbank is again working with Revolution Foods to provide “tasty, kid-approved meals” made fresh with nutrient-dense foods.
She said more volunteers are needed to help distribute the meals, especially at the Guadalupe and Santa Maria sites, starting in July.
The Foodbank also is partnering with La Ley radio to provide music at two locations in Santa Maria — Minami Park on June 14 and Grogan Park on June 17.
The music is part of the eighth annual Free Summer Meal Concert Series, supported by the nationwide nonprofit No Kid Hungry organization.
“Youth musicians and DJs will perform at various sites throughout the summer, adding even more fun and community spirit to the valuable [summer meals] program,” a No Kid Hungry spokeswoman said.
In addition to the two Santa Maria locations, music will be presented at Hapgood Elementary School in Lompoc on June 23 and 30 through the No Kid Hungry program.
Local radio stations will broadcast live from meal sites to help spread the word about the free summer meals.
Picnic in the Park meals will be distributed weekdays from June 14 to Aug. 6 at:
- 11 a.m., River View Townhomes, 230 Calle Cesar E. Chavez, Guadalupe;
- 11 a.m., Minami Park, 600 W. Enos Drive, Santa Maria;
- 11 a.m., Arrellanes Junior High School, 1890 Sandalwood Drive, Santa Maria;
- 11:30 a.m., Boys and Girls Clubs of Mid Central Coast, 901 N. Railroad Ave., Santa Maria;
- Noon, Tunnell Park, 1100 N. Palisade Drive, Santa Maria;
- 12:15 p.m., Grogan Park, 11:55 W. Rancho Verde, Santa Maria;
- Noon, Solvang Elementary School, 565 Atterdag Road, Elm Avenue parking lot, Solvang.
In Los Alamos, Picnic in the Park Meals will be distributed at 11:30 a.m. from July 6 to 30 at Los Alamos Park, 500 Drum Canyon Road.