SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Picnic in the Park has returned to Santa Barbara County.
"The goal of this program is to ensure that all of our kids in our community have a healthy lunch during the summer and that they go back to school ready to learn and thrive," said Laurel Alcantar, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County Development Manager.
The long-running summer program began its ten-week run on Monday at 17 locations across Santa Barbara County.
Meals will be provided free of charge Monday through Friday to all kids 18-years-old and under.
"We do have a large percentage of kids in our area who are reliant on free school lunches, so we want to make sure during the summertime that doesn't translate to families not having enough food for their kids," said Alcantar.
According to Alcantar, Foodbank expects to feed about 900 kids daily.
"These meals are prepared fresh every day," said Alcantar. "They always include a fruit, they include a vegetable and a protein source. Our goal of the program is to make sure kids are getting a real healthy meal and they're getting an optimum meal during the summer and they're not filling up with junk or not going without meals."
For parents like David Wilding of Santa Maria, he's appreciative the program continues to run each year.
He said his three sons have taken part several times in the past.
"I'm very grateful because it helps me out because if I don't have enough at home, I can come here," said Wilding. "I think it's really important. It gives the kids a good balanced lunch and they get to play and interact with other kids and I think that's really good."
While some of the distribution locations are at libraries, low-income housing and neighborhood centers, most of them are at parks.
"We're encouraging healthy lifestyles and for kids to get outside, to play and be active," Alcantar said. "They get to socialize in a safe environment where we have adults present. A lot of kids do come by themselves. A lot of them are brought by family members, so it becomes kind of a nice social interaction point as well."
Lunches are given out by volunteers. In Santa Maria, volunteers with the City's Recreation and Parks Department help distribute food.
Alcantar said Foodbank is still looking for volunteers. Anyone interested can contact Lisa Skvarla at firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 403-2471.
2019 Picnic in the Park Schedule
North County: June 10 – August 9, Monday – Friday
Ranch Acres Apartments 1050 Escalante St. 12:45pm – 1:45pm
River View Townhomes 220 Calle Ceasar E. Chavez 1:00pm – 2:00pm
College Park Apts 648 North G St. 12:30pm – 1:30pm
Palm Grove 31 Palm Drive 1:15pm - 2:15pm
Tunnell Park 1100 N. Palisade Dr. 12:30pm – 1:30pm
Rice Park 700 E. Sunset Ave. 11:00am – 12:00pm
Minami Park 600 W. Enos Dr. 11:00am – 12:00pm
Los Adobes de Maria I 1026 W. Boone St. 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Grogan Park 1155 W. Rancho Verde St. 11:45am – 12:45pm
Veterans’ Memorial Park 313 W Tunnell St. 11:30am – 12:30pm
Los Alamos (July 1 – August 2) Monday – Thursday ONLY
Los Alamos County Park 500 Drum Canyon Rd. 12:00pm – 1:00pm
South County: June 10 – August 16, Monday – Friday
Santa Barbara Public Library 40 E. Anapamu St. 11:30am – 12:30pm
Jardin de las Rosas (Monday – Thursday ONLY) 510 N Salsipuedes St. 11:30am – 12:30pm
Positano Apartments 11 Camino De Vida 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Carpinteria Public Library 5141 Carpinteria Ave. 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Casas de Los Carneros 10 Longshore Pl. 1:00 – 2:00pm
Jonny D. Wallis Neighborhood Park 170 S Kellogg Ave. 12:30pm – 1:30pm
For more information, visit the Picnic in the Park webpage