Foodbank serving free summer lunches to kids in northern Santa Barbara County
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Foodbank serving free summer lunches to kids in northern Santa Barbara County

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Foodbank of Santa Barbara County will launch its children’s free summer lunch program next week, but due to COVID-19 safety recommendations, lunches will be offered in a “grab-and-go” style for pickup and eating off-site, an organization spokeswoman said.

Dubbed “Picnic in the Park,” the program provides free healthy lunches for kids age 18 and younger Monday through Friday from June 8 to Aug. 7 at locations throughout the county.

Working with Revolution Foods, the Foodbank is providing fresh, plant-rich, kid-friendly lunches that include whole fruits, veggies and milk daily, with entrées like chicken picnic salad, turkey wraps, flatbread pizza and sliders, the spokeswoman said.

Lunches are served on a first-come, first-served basis as part of the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program, and there are no income requirements to participate.

Activity books and online nutrition education will be available to children who participate in “Picnic in the Park.”

Judith Smith-Meyer said the Foodbank is providing the lunches in areas where schools are not extending their food service programs through the summer.

Since Lompoc schools are extending their program, Foodbank lunches won’t be offered there, she said.

“While we are operating fewer locations this year, we are expecting to deliver the same or greater number of lunches due to so many families experiencing continued crisis,” Smith-Meyer said, noting the program usually provides 1,000 meals per day.

In Santa Maria, the lunches will be handed out at Arrellanes Junior High School, 1890 Sandalwood Drive, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; Tunnell Park, 1100 N. Palisade Drive, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.; Minami Park, 600 W. Enos Drive, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; and Grogan Park, 1155 W. Rancho Verde, from noon to 1 p.m.

Lunches will be available in Los Alamos at St. Anthony Church, 270 Helena St., from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and in Santa Ynez Valley at Solvang Elementary School, 565 Atterdag Road, from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m.

The lunches are provided by volunteers who use sanitizer, physical distancing and personal protective equipment to avoid transmission of COVID-19.

Volunteers, who must be 14 years old, are especially needed for the Santa Maria locations and must commit to either serving for an entire week or one day weekly for two hours around noontime.

To volunteer to provide meals to children facing hunger during the summer, sign up at www.FoodbankSBC.org.

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