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Foodbank Picnic in the Park Program a Fulfilling Experience for Symmonds Family

With one in five children at risk for hunger in Santa Barbara County, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County’s Picnic in the Park program helps to bridge the “summer hunger gap” by providing nutritious lunches for children at outdoor sites throughout Santa Barbara County.

This summer, Picnic in the Park served more than 2,650 children.

This August, Ajani and Laura Symmonds visited Picnic in the Park for the first time. The Symmonds and their two children, DeShawn and Brooke, enjoyed a nutritious free lunch at Santa Barbara County Library, one of Foodbank’s 16 Picnic in the Park locations.

Ajani attended Santa Barbara City College and transferred to Cal State-Northridge. He now runs a family business with this wife, Laura, called Baby Sign Sessions, teaching sign language to babies and their families to establish a stronger form of communication.

The Symmonds enjoyed their time at Picnic in the Park and believe the program teaches their children how to interact with other children. After lunch, the kids engage in physical activities together, turning the library location into a true community experience.

“I feel the Picnic in the Park program is very family friendly and something the community can enjoy together,” Ajani said. “It is also a good outlet for those in need of food.”

Families and children who participate in Picnic in the Park also learn healthy eating habits through the program’s enrichment activities, and benefit from fun physical activities. Every lunch that Picnic in the Park serves helps children to meet their daily nutritional requirements and gain a better understanding of the importance making healthy lifestyle choices.

“Foodbank is a resource for working families like the Symmonds,” said Erik Talkin, CEO of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. “With community support, it is possible to keep kids from going hungry and families from having to make trade off decisions between food and important tools for success like education and health care.”

As families get ready for back-to-school, Picnic in the Park participants will carry with them the lessons learned about nutrition and the importance of a healthy lifestyle throughout the year. Bringing these healthy habits into their homes and daily lives helps build a foundation for success for kids during the summer, the school year and for a lifetime.

The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County’s Picnic in the Park Summer Food Program helps to bridge this “summer hunger gap” with nutritious lunches at 16 locations countywide, and also provides physical activities, food literacy education and a chance for summer fun for those in need. With community support, Foodbank aims to provide 38,000 meals to 2,000 children each summer, and reach over 49,000 children countywide through school-based, afterschool and community programs throughout the school year.

— Amy Bernstein is a publicist representing the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.

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