Free meals, good music for the kids

Summer Meal Concert Series Begins at Washington Elementary School

KENNETH SONG/NEWS-PRESS PHOTOS
Children from Washington Elementary School in Santa Barbara attend the kickoff of the Summer Meal concert series on Wednesday.

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.

This is where about 200 children received free meals.

Today, the series continues between 11:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. at Santa Maria Grogan Park, 155 W. Rancho Verde, Santa Maria, where people 18 and under can get a free healthy meal. The Santa Barbara County Food Bank is sponsoring today’s event and features radio station DJ La Ley.

Childhood hunger peaks in the summer for many Santa Barbara County children who depend on free and reduced meals during the school year.

“It’s a time when they’re not connected to their schools when they’re offered two to three meals a day,” said Laura Capps, consultant for No Kid Hungry, which supports the ninth annual Summer Meal concert series.

She told News-Press that the meal/concert series is “a way for them (kids) to keep their nutrition high and enjoy the summer.”

Starting this week and throughout the summer, local musicians and DJs will be performing at various venues across Santa Barbara County. Additionally, local radio stations will broadcast live from meal sites, helping spread the word so more children have a happy and healthy summer.

Ms. Capps stressed the need for the program, noting that Santa Barbara County is tied for the most hungry children in California.

“We have extremely high poverty rates,” she told 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, Lompoc Unified School District, Goleta Union School District, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, United Way and the City of Santa Barbarian.

The summer series includes six concerts. However, concerts aren’t the only time kids can get a healthy, free meal. There are 40 locations in Santa Barbara County offering a free, healthy meal, Monday through Friday.

To find out where summer meals are served in their neighborhood, families can text FOOD to 304-304. When they text the number, there will be a prompt to enter their address. Then they will be given the three locations closest to their home.

No document or registration is required.

Ms. Capps said the idea for the concert series came from Montecito resident and Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges, national spokesperson 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,” Ms Capps said.

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.)

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FOR YOUR INFORMATION

Here is the program for the remaining programs of 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 Avenue,

Carpinteria.

– From noon to 1 p.m. on June 29 at the 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 offers free music and meals for children.

For other free lunch locations, Monday through Friday in Santa Barbara County, text FOOD to 304-304.

The program is designed for youth 18 and under.