In the News

Foodbank’s Picnic in Park Gives Kids Free, Healthy Lunches During Summer

Originally posted by Noozhawk

Children who depend on school meals for daily nutrition came to wider public attention during recent disasters in Santa Barbara County.

Through its Picnic in the Park program, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County offers free lunches to children age 18 and younger Monday through Friday, June 11-Aug. 10, at 14 locations countywide while schools are closed for the summer.

Lunches are served on a first-come-first-served basis and there are no income requirements to participate. All children under age 18 are encouraged to attend.

Each program site, located in easily accessible parks, housing facilities and neighborhood centers, is managed by volunteers and groups who serve lunch, conduct nutrition education and lead summer games.

Lunches will be served at Los Alamos County Park June 25-July 27.

Russell Park in Santa Maria is closed until June 15 due to construction. Lunches will be served June 18-Aug. 10 at Russell Park. The closest Picnic in the Park site to Russell Park where lunch is being served June 11-15 is Veterans Memorial Park, 545 Pine St., Santa Maria.

New to the program this year is the Foodbank’s weekly innovative and age-appropriate nutrition education, which includes recipes, read aloud, and crafts.

Kidsdata.org’s most recent data (2015) shows 60 percent of children on average countywide qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. Sample variations for eligibility across the county include“

Santa Maria-Bonita School District: 87 percent

Lompoc Unified School District: 66 percent

Santa Barbara Unified School District: 46 percent

Goleta Union School District: 43 percent

To provide meals to children facing hunger during the summer, individuals may donate at EndSummerHunger.org.

In partnership with Santa Maria Recreation and Parks, Picnic in the Park features organized fitness and outdoor play at north county parks.

The Foodbank contracts with Santa Barbara Unified School (SBUSD) District’s food services department in South County and with Orcutt Union School District Child Nutrition Services in North County to provide lunches.

Both school food programs and staff specialize in using fresh, local ingredients and work throughout the summer to prepare healthy lunches every weekday for children through Picnic in the Park.

The Foodbank collaborates with No Kid Hungry, SBUSD, Community Action Commission, People’s Self-Help Housing, the Housing Authority of Santa Barbara and other partners to ensure children throughout Santa Barbara County have access to health meals throughout the summer.

As part of this collaboration, Foodbank Picnic in the Park sites are included in the text SUMMERFOOD to 877-877, where anyone can input their city or ZIP code and receive information about the nearest lunch program.

Picnic in the Park is sponsored by KEYT/KCOY/KKFX; the Raintree Foundation; Chevron; Crown Point Vineyards; Save Mart Supermarkets; Lynne Cantlay and Robert Klein; Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP; Karl Storz Imaging; Santa Barbara County Bar Association.

Vivian Solodkin; Hazelwood Allied Moving and Storage, Marilyn Clayton, Paul and Anne deBruynKops; John Mandle; Noozhawk; Dick and Judi Thielscher; and hundreds of individual donors.

Visit www.foodbanksbc.org to learn more.