More than 27,000 low-income Santa Barbara County children count on their school lunch programs to help stay nourished. However, when summer comes and school lets out, food insecurity can become a serious problem.
But now, there's a program in place to help feed those kids healthy breakfasts and lunches, five days a week for eight weeks. It's part of the No Kid Hungry campaign and it was spearheaded by Oscar-winning actor and Santa Barbara resident Jeff Bridges. Locally, it's called Food4Kids.
On Friday, more than 400 kids enjoyed their free lunchtime meals along with a concert at Santa Barbara's Chase Palm Park.
"Many of these children if they were not able to have free and reduced breakfast as well as free and reduced lunch would actually go without food," said State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, who was among the local leaders at today's lunch and concert.
The federal government provides the lunches and the Wood-Claeyssens Foundation covers breakfast.
Senator Jackson says she is working at the state level on a bill related to this issue.
"The bill calls for healthy foods like fruits and vegetables as daily snacks in after school programs and it also calls for after school programs to make sure children get at least 30 to 40 minutes of exercise," said Jackson.
The next Summer Meal Program concert is set for August 8th, at Monroe Elementary.
To make it easier to find out where summer meals are served, families throughout the county can text Food4Kids to 877-877 to find a summer meals site in their neighborhood.