La Manzana’s Summer Lunch Program Returns!

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY – The annual Summer Lunch program, sponsored by La Manzana Community Resources (LMCR), a program of Community Bridges’ Family Resource Collective, will kick off on Monday, June 5. 

Kids 18 and younger can pick up a FREE lunch at various sites in Santa Cruz and Watsonville through early-August. Most Watsonville sites will distribute lunches through August 4. 

Through Community Bridges, the Summer Lunch program served more than 21,000 meals over the last two years, helping combat local childhood hunger and its deleterious impacts on the area’s youngest residents. When school districts close for the summer many students who are not attending ongoing educational programs miss out on what sometimes is their only complete meal. It is estimated that more than 30 million children across the U.S. (about the population of Texas) depend on free meal programs such as these and it’s even more critical when the traditional sources of that access are closed for summer.  

According to Feeding America, more than 9 million U.S. children (about half the population of New York, or 1 in 8 kids) faced hunger in 2021. In addition, USDA data shows that childhood hunger was more prevalent among Black and Latino children, as 22% of Black children were food insecure, and 18.5% of Latino children were food insecure in 2021. 

Kids who are facing hunger, according to Feeding America, were more likely to repeat a grade in school, experience developmental impairments in areas like language and motor skills and have more social and behavioral problems. 

“Community Bridges Summer Lunch sites are easily accessible to youth,” La Manzana Program Manager Liliana Zamora said. “Some sites are in apartment complexes; others are in local parks and community centers. This allows youth to access lunches close to their residence instead of getting transportation to local school sites, removing another barrier for families to remain nourished in the summer.” 

A combination of federal, state, and local funding supports most of the Summer Lunch Program costs. But approximately 30% of the cost of this program is covered through donations. Now more than ever when local county CORE funding is no longer available to support these programs, we need community support. Those interested in making an individual donation to support the program may do so by visiting communitybridges.org/donate and selecting “La Manzana Community Resource Center.”  

Those interested in volunteering to help serve lunches, or to support any of our other programs, should visit communitybridges.org/volunteer. 

Free meals will be provided to all children 0-18, without eligibility documentation, at the following sites from 12PM-1PM, Monday through Friday. Serving dates are June 5 – August 4. 

  • Boys and Girls Club of Santa Cruz: 543 Center St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060 
  • Nueva Vista at Beach Flats Park: 131 Leibrandt Ave. Santa Cruz, CA 95060 
  • Nueva Vista at Familia Center: 711 East Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 
  • La Manzana Community Resources: 521 Main St., Watsonville, CA 95076 
  • Stone Creek Apartments: 300 Bree Lane, Watsonville, CA 95076 
  • Vista Verde Apartments: 45 Steward Ave., Freedom, CA 95019  
  • Corralitos Creek: 125 Pajaro Circle, Freedom, CA 95019 
  • YWCA: 340 E. Beach St., Watsonville, CA 95076 

Free meals will be provided to all children 0-18, without eligibility documentation, at the following sites from 12PM-1PM, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Serving dates are June 6 – August 3. 

  • Pajaro Park: 27 San Juan Rd., Watsonville, CA 95076   

Free meals will be provided to all children 0-18, without eligibility documentation, at the following sites from 12PM-1PM, Monday through Friday. Serving dates are June 20 – July 28. 

  • Pippin Orchards: 56 Atkinson Lane, Watsonville, CA 95076 
  • Sunny Meadows: 220 Ross Ave., Watsonville, Freedom, CA 95019 
  • Schapiro Knolls: 33 Minto Rd., Watsonville, CA 95076 

About the Family Resource Collective 

Community Bridges Family Resource Collective has four locations to meet the needs of Santa Cruz County residents. Our centers in Santa Cruz, Felton, Live Oak and Watsonville create a safety net of services to meet individual and household needs. Our compassionate staff build a warm, friendly, safe place for the community to access resources that offer stability and hope for the future.  

About Community Bridges 

Community Bridges envisions a thriving community where every person has the opportunity to unleash their full potential. Together, our family of programs delivers essential services, provides equitable access to resources, and advocates for health and dignity across every stage of life. To learn more, please visit www.communitybridges.org. 

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