County foodbank serves up summer meals

2014-06-12T12:12:00Z 2014-06-13T10:38:04Z County foodbank serves up summer mealsErin Lennon erin.lennon@lee.net Santa Maria Times
June 12, 2014 12:12 pm  • 

Grogan Park was busy with twirling hula-hoops, bouncing kids racing in burlap sacks and, mostly, healthy eating on Thursday afternoon when the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County kicked off its Picnic in the Park summer program with a free, nutritious lunch for local youth.

Over the past five years, the food bank has stepped in after the school year has ended to serve up a hearty lunch throughout the summer. This year, the number of kids stopping by for food and activities is expected to increase, with the food bank's director of community impact, Bonnie Campbell, looking forward to serving nearly 38,000 lunches this summer to 2,000 kids.

"We want to make sure that these kids have something to eat every day this summer," said Campbell, noting that the program served 33,000 lunches last summer.

The volunteer-run program will host local youth at 16 sites around the county this summer, dishing up lunch Monday through Friday afternoons. The foodbank has chosen parks, housing facilities and neighborhood centers within two miles of school sites where at least half of students receive free or reduced-price lunch. This roster of locations includes three new sites in Lompoc and two new sites at Santa-Maria Bonita School District summer program locations.

"The kids who receive food assistance through the school district throughout the year don't have to miss a meal just because it's summertime," said Campbell. They also don't have to miss a lesson. Campbell and the food bank also provide programming to teach participants about healthy lifestyles.

Diners can take part in activities at Picnic in the Park as well, from races and games to nutrition literacy programming, with Campbell sure to provide prizes to keep kids coming back. The program is open to all county children under 18 years old, regardless of household income.

"The prizes make me want to come back to eat my lunch," said a local student who is heading into fourth grade this fall. She and a number of other attendees at Thursday's kickoff were not new to the program. Picnic in the Park is part of a decades-old national effort led by the United States Department of Agriculture's Summer Food Service Program, which works to make nutritious meals accessible to low-income children when the school year ends.

"The food bank is aware of the meal gap for these kids and is stepping in to fill that," said Campbell. Through nutritious meals and educational games, the food bank also hopes to help students steer clear of overly processed, sugary snacks when they're hungry this summer.

Picnic in the Park locations include the Santa Maria Public Library at 420 S. Broadway, Veterans Memorial Park at 545 Pine St. and Fairlawn Elementary School at 120 Mary Drive.

Copyright 2015 Santa Maria Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

No Comments Posted.

Civil Dialogue Policy for Commenting on SantaMariaTimes.com

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Comments can only be submitted by registered users. By posting comments on our site, you are agreeing to the following terms:

Commentary and photos submitted to the Santa Maria Times (SantaMariaTimes.com) may be published or distributed in print, electronically or other forms. Opinions expressed in SantaMariaTimes.com's comments reflect the opinions of the author, and are not necessarily the opinions of the Santa Maria Times or its parent company. See the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for more information.

Our guidelines prohibit the solicitation of products or services, the impersonation of another site user, threatening or harassing postings and the use of vulgar, abusive, obscene or sexually oriented language, defamatory or illegal material. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability or other classification. It's fine to criticize ideas, but ad hominem attacks on other site users are prohibited. Users who violate those standards may lose their privileges on SantaMariaTimes.com.

You may not post copyrighted material from another publication. (Link to it instead, using a headline or very brief excerpt.)

No short policy such as this can spell out all possible instances of material or behavior that we might deem to be a violation of our publishing standards, and we reserve the right to remove any material posted to the site.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Activate subscription button gif

Follow Us

Deals, Offers and Events

Featured Businesses

View More...

Online e-Edition

Read your newspaper online, anytime, anywhere!

Read today's Santa Maria Times print edition at any time from any computer. Your local news and information at your convenience!

Read | Subscribe