No Kid Hungry amplifies organizations’ food program with a side of fun
Kids and parents grabbed meals in the Franklin Elementary School parking lot Thursday as Radio Bronco DJ Lupita Rodriguez hosted giveaways and played the station’s live broadcast.
Kids stepped up to a wheel, spinning it for a chance at Radio Bronco merchandise and coupons to McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams.
The event was one of three summer meal concerts Thursday, and additional distributions will be held throughout the summer.
The series is an annual tradition for school districts and other local organizations. National nonprofit No Kid Hungry supports the program.
Montecito movie star Jeff Bridges is a spokesperson for No Kid Hungry and an advocate for pairing free meals with fun tunes.
The music is a reminder to the kids that they matter, Laura Capps, Santa Barbara Unified school board member and an organizer for the program, told the News-Press.
There are 50 locations that provide free meals to youth 18 and under, and the concert series is a fun extension of the regular food distribution.
Franklin, one of the busiest sites, provides 400-500 breakfasts and lunches daily.
Matt Dittman, Santa Barbara Unified School District’s food services director, said that even though school is out for the summer, the children still need meals.
Nearly half of Santa Barbara’s children (population under the age of 18) live below the poverty line, according to California Department of Public Health data.
The summer concert series is also intended to bring awareness to child poverty, Ms. Capps said, though families of all income levels were welcome to pick up a meal.
The meal concerts are drive-up style this year, out of health and safety precautions. Last year, the organizations were not allowed to host music.
Adrian, 9, and his sister Dianna Barron, 7, were some of the first kids to participate Thursday.
Dianna pranced up to spin the prize wheel, first landing on an empty space.
“Otra vez,” cheered DJ Rodriguez, allowing kids to spin the wheel again.
The atmosphere was exciting as the dial ticked and the wheel spun round and round, eventually landing Dianna with a free scoop of ice cream.
The energy could likely be attributed to Ms. Rodriguez. She’s participated in these events before and loves seeing the little ones’ smiles.
Adrian and Dianna posed for a picture with DJ Rodriguez. She’s a fixture of the community, having spent decades on Santa Barbara’s Spanish-speaking airwaves.
Adrian and Dianna recognized her voice from hearing their mom listen to Radio Bronco.
Dianna told the News-Press that she had fun spinning the wheel and that she also enjoys the food.
“I like every single food they give,” she said.
The meals were fresh from Santa Barbara Unified’s kitchens. The district only cooks from scratch, even making its own fresh rolls.
Chicken fettuccine alfredo was on the menu Thursday with sides of broccoli, apples, carrots, milk and those homemade rolls.
To find the nearest hot lunch distributions, families can text “SUMMERFOOD” to 877-877.
Public figures such as U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, and Santa Barbara County Supervisor Joan Hartmann will join the meal concerts on select days.
Music joins the meal distribution at the following times this summer:
— Wednesday, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Hapgood Elementary School, 324 S A St., Lompoc.
— Wednesday, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.; Goleta Union School District Office, 401 N Fairview Ave., Goleta. Supervisor Hartmann will attend.
— June 30, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Hapgood Elementary School, 324 S A Street, Lompoc.
— July 14, Noon – 1 p.m.: Canalino Elementary School, 1480 Linden Ave., Carpinteria; Rep. Carbajal will attend.