There are 52 places around the county where any child 18 and under can eat a free, healthy meal—no paperwork required. In Carpinteria, free meals are given out at the Carpinteria Boys & Girls Club, Monday through Saturday from 8 to 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Girls Inc. of Carpinteria, Monday to Friday, from 8 to 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and at the Carpinteria Library, Monday to Friday, from noon to 1 p.m.
Summer is when hunger is the most challenging for nearly one in five kids in Santa Barbara County. Partners throughout the county are working together to expand access to free meals, including the Santa Barbara Unified School District, the city of Santa Barbara, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County and the Community Action Committee.
To boost awareness, partner agencies are holding a summer concert series at free meal hubs. The concert series was inspired by No Kid Hungry’s national spokesperson, Jeff Bridges, in 2013. Bridges, a Santa Barbara resident and an outspoken hunger advocate, has supported the concert series since its inception. “Summer is the hardest time for kids in need, when school is out, and their main source of meals is gone. These great young musicians are doing their part to help all kids have a healthy, happy summer,” said Bridges.
During the school year, children have free meals provided by their public schools. Over the summer, “that’s when hunger strikes” said Laura Capps of the Capps Foundation who has also long advocated and supported the free meal program’s initiative. “As a mom, just thinking about these kids that don’t have enough food…,” said Capps in a phone interview, “We’re all doing what we can to make sure children have the healthy meals they need to thrive.”
Capps also stressed that this is a program for all children, age 18 and under. Absolutely no paper work or identification will be asked for at any meal site. Capps hopes this will help increase participation, “There should be no fear of ICE raids. It’s important (kids) know they’re safe.”
To find out where summer meals are served, families throughout the county can text SUMMERFOOD to 877-877 and a list of summer meal sites will be texted back.