CARPINTERIA, Calif. - The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is launching its children's summer lunch program, called "Picnic in the Park," in Carpinteria on Monday. The program launched last Monday elsewhere across the county.
"Picnic in the Park" has been going on for years, but will look different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meals will be 'Grab & Go' or 'Drive-Thru' style, to be picked up and eaten off-site.
The program is especially important in Carpinteria this summer. The Carpinteria Unified School District provided children with free meals during the school year, but cannot over summer vacation due to its contract with staff.
Michelle Hernandez, Child Nutrition & Wellness Coordinator at the Carpinteria Unified School District, said that she and her staff loved working to feed students during the school year. They made thousands of weekly meals for students after the COVID-19 crisis closed campuses.
“A lot of early mornings, a lot of long days… a lot of great dishes that my team and I made from scratch every day,” said Hernandez, who praised local organizations for donating and helping the cause during the school year.
As in previous years, "Picnic in the Park" is now helping during the summer. Many families are out of work or are hurting financially, jeopardizing their ability to afford healthy meals.
There was a steady stream of cars coming in for meals Monday at Canalino Elementary, one of two Foodbank distribution locations in Carpinteria.
“I think we kinda were surprised with our turnout, as it was our first day,” said Foodbank Programs Coordinator Alex Varner. “We distributed over 100 lunches… We didn’t have to turn anyone away. So we were able to get all of our meals out, and we still have some to pass on to the Rescue Mission.”
The Foodbank says lunches are served on a first-come first-served basis as part of the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program and there are no income requirements to participate. All children under the age of 18 are encouraged to attend.
More volunteers are needed for the program in Carpinteria and Santa Maria. The Foodbank is also looking for volunteers for senior home delivery in both North and South County.
Those interested in volunteering or learning more can visit the Foodbank's website.
The program will run through August 14 in Carpinteria and August 7 in the Foodbank's other "Picnic in the Park" locations. All locations are listed below.
- Santa Barbara Public Library, 11:30 am-12:30 pm, 40 E. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara (June 8-Aug 7)
- Carpinteria Middle School, 12:30-1:30 pm, 5351 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria (June 15 – Aug 14)
- Canalino School, 12:30-1:30 pm, 1480 Linden Ave., Carpinteria (June 15 – Aug 14)
- Arrellanes Jr. High School, 11 am-12:30 pm, 1890 Sandalwood Dr., Santa Maria
- Tunnell Park, 11:30 am-12:45 pm, 1100 N. Palisade Dr., Santa Maria
- Minami Park, 11:30 am–12:30 pm, 600 W. Enos Dr., Santa Maria
- Grogan Park, 12-1 pm, 1155 W. Rancho Verde, Santa Maria
- St. Anthony Church, 11:30 am-12:30 pm, 270 Helena St., Los Alamos
- Solvang Elementary School, 12:15-1:15 pm, 565 Atterdag Rd, Solvang