For thousands of children in Santa Barbara County, summer vacation is the hungriest time of the year, when the school meals they rely on come to an end. No Kid Hungry and Food4Kids are working to ensure kids get the healthy food they need, all summer long.
This Thursday, May 15, at Franklin Elementary School, students and community members will gather to kick off this year’s summer meals program with music by local youth bands and healthy food from the Santa Barbara Unified School District.
Thursday’s event is a celebration of the more than 30 local sites where kids can get free, and healthy, meals this summer. It also marks the second year that a community coalition of service providers, called Food4Kids, has come together to improve efforts to reach more families about the meal programs they offer.
The coalition is supported and inspired by No Kid Hungry national spokesman Jeff Bridges, who lives in Santa Barbara with his family.
The event will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. and is free to the public. Speakers include Jeff Bridges, Rep. Lois Capps, Mayor Helene Schneider, CAC President Fran Forman and Bonnie Campbell of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. To make meal programs more fun and inviting, youth bands will be performing throughout the summer at various summer meal locations.
“Summer is the hardest time for kids in need,” Bridges said. “In Santa Barbara County, as many as 22,000 kids are not getting the meals they need to thrive in our community. So last year we launched Food4Kids, an awareness program to let families know about the meals sites throughout the country where they can get free summer meals for their kids. This year, Santa Barbara's free meal program involves music performances to make them more fun, inviting and community supported and we hope that this brings nutritious food to our kids who need it most.”
There are 33 places around the county where children can enjoy a free meal this summer. No Kid Hungry has also developed a texting program to make it easier for families to find out where summer meals are served. Beginning Thursday, families throughout the county will be able to text Food4Kids to 877-877 to find a summer meals site in their neighborhood. The texting program is sponsored by the Arby’s Foundation.