At the end of each school year, children wait for the final bell to ring, which for them marks the beginning of summer vacation. Summer is an exciting time for children to enjoy playtime with friends, spend a week at camp, take a family vacation, or enjoy time at the pool. But for many children who receive free and reduced-priced meals at school, summer can mean hunger. Just as learning does not end when school lets out, neither does a child’s need for good nutrition. In fact, 84% of children in Santa Barbara County who receive free or reduced lunches during the school year get nothing in the summer.
The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County provides free nutritious meals to low-income children during the summer as part of the USDA Summer Food Service Program, called Picnic in the Park. The healthy summer meals are served at various parks in the county.
This year the Foodbank partnered with Foods Co in Santa Maria to purchase a large amount of the food items that it prepared and served to the children.
“Robert Hamilton, the store manager and his staff were so helpful in getting our order placed and providing us with wonderful personal assistance,” said Robin Coutu, Food Sourcing and Purchasing Manager at the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.
Robert is a local member of the community volunteering his time with children and sports. He has worked at the Santa Maria Foods Co store for 10 years and sees what the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County does for the community. He understands the need for food assistance with people that are in need from his own personal experience with working at the Foods Co.
Robert’s store also donates to the Foodbank’s Fresh Rescue Program with last year alone providing over 28,000 pounds of fresh food.
“Foods Co has been a wonderful partner and we hope to continue the relationship with them next year,” said Robin Coutu.