Picnic in the Park

By on Aug 25, 2017 in Giving

Millions of kids across the United States rely on school lunch as their affordable, nutritious daytime meal throughout the school year. But what happens when school is out? For many kids, hunger is a trapicnicintheparkgic condition associated with summer break.

Foodbanks across the country are working to end summer hunger. The coordinated effort of nonprofit staff and volunteers serves millions of healthy meals all summer long at locations easily accessible to kids. Parks and playgrounds are prime locations to reach kids in need.

Judith Smith-Meyer, marketing communications manager for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County describes the Picnic in the Park program, which served more than 30,000 lunches in 2017 to kids across the region. “Lunches always include vegetables, fruit, milk, protein and carbohydrates. We serve everything from chef salad, tuna salad, turkey and cheese sandwiches, to plums, apples, yogurt and hardboiled eggs,” said Judith.

The lunch menu can often depend on what the Foodbank has in stock. However, the notoriously fickle taste buds of children can also play a big part in crafting the menu.

“We found that in certain parks the kids really did not like tuna salad sandwiches. We were thankful for that feedback and switched tuna out for peanut butter and jelly the next time we were there. At another park, the kids were really not fond of Caesar salad dressing. Our local Walmart donated another type of dressing which we served the next time we were in that park, which was a lot more successful,” said Judith.

Foodbank volunteers are strategic about when and where they plan lunch services to coincide with the financial needs of neighborhoods and to not overlap with similar programs run by other organizations. “This is a big county with a lot of varying demographics. It takes a lot of planning and research to make sure we make the most of our resources,” said Judith.

All of that planning makes the summer lunch program very accessible to kids in need. “We’ve made it really easy for kids to find us– our schedule is always up to date online. Kids and parents can even quickly learn which park we’re in just by sending a text message to an automated service,” said Judith. There are no income requirements to receive lunch, and any child 18 years and under is welcome to a free, healthy lunch every weekday during the summer.

Yardi has supported the Foodbank in multiple United States locations. From canned food drives to coordinated volunteer efforts, Yardi is proud of the work our employees have done to help the Foodbank achieve its mission of ending hunger through good nutrition.