Summer Meal Concert Series starts at Washington Elementary School
The Summer Meal Concert Series kicked off Wednesday in Santa Barbara County with the first program featuring DJ Hecktik at Washington Elementary School in Santa Barbara.
That’s where about 200 kids were fed free meals.
Today the series continues between 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at Santa Maria Grogan Park, 155 W. Rancho Verde, Santa Maria, where people 18 and younger can get a free, healthy meal. The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is sponsoring today’s event and is featuring the DJ from La Ley radio station.
Childhood hunger spikes in the summer for many children in Santa Barbara County who rely on free and reduced meals during the school year.
“It’s a time when they are not connected to their schools when they are offered two to three meals a day,” said Laura Capps, a consultant for No Kid Hungry, which supports the ninth annual Summer Meal Concert Series.
She told the News-Press that the meals/concert series is a “way that they (kids) can keep their nutrition levels high and enjoy the summer.”
Beginning this week and throughout the summer, local musicians and DJs will perform at various sites throughout Santa Barbara County. Additionally, local radio stations will broadcast live from the meal sites, helping to spread the word so that more kids have a happy, healthy summer.
Ms. Capps stressed the need for the program, noting that Santa Barbara County is tied for the highest amount of childhood hunger in California.
“We have extremely high rates of poverty,” she told the News-Press. “The pandemic has only exacerbated it.”
For the past nine years, No Kid Hungry has supported a coalition of organizations such as the Santa Barbara Unified School District, the Lompoc Unified School District, the Goleta Union School District, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, United Way and the city of Santa Barbara.
The summer series features six concerts. However, the concerts are not the only time that kids can get a free, healthy meal. There are 40 locations in Santa Barbara County offering a free, healthy meal, Mondays through Fridays.
To find out where summer meals are served in their neighborhoods, families can text FOOD to 304-304. When they text the number, there will be a prompt to enter their address. Then they’ll receive the three closest locations to their home.
No paperwork or registration is required.
Ms. Capps said the idea for the concert series came from Montecito resident and Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges, the national spokesman for No Kid Hungry. Mr. Bridges raised his daughters in the Santa Barbara area with his wife Susan.
“It was Jeff’s idea to combine music and food and show these kids how much their community cares about them,” said Ms. Capps.
In addition to today’s concert in Santa Maria, the series will continue with programs in Carpinteria, Goleta and Santa Barbara. (See the FYI box for the schedule.)
Here’s the schedule for the remaining programs in the Summer Meal Concert Series, which offers free meals and music:
— 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. today at Santa Maria Grogan Park, 155 W. Rancho Verde, Santa Maria.
— 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 23 at Alisos Elementary School, 4545 Carpinteria Ave.,
— Noon to 1 p.m. June 29 at Goleta Valley Community Center, 5679 Hollister Ave., Goleta.
— 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 30 at Franklin Elementary School, 1111 E. Mason St, Santa Barbara.
— 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 14 at McKinley Elementary School, 350 Loma Alta Drive, Santa Barbara.
No registration is required for the series, which provides music and free meals to kids.
For locations of other free meals, Mondays through Fridays in Santa Barbara County, text FOOD to 304-304.
The program is designed for youths 18 and younger.