This week’s featured member food bank is the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. Since March 2020, now a full year ago, Foodbank SBC has met twice (or more) the usual need for food assistance throughout the county.
A home delivery program was launched that provided the 1,500 low-income older adults served by the Foodbank’s Brown Bag program with healthy groceries and fresh produce food at their doors. The Foodbank also enrolled more than 3,000 additional older adults in the Brown Bag program, providing triple the usual low-income older adults in the county with home deliveries. Households experiencing severe medical circumstances were also provided home deliveries by request. Since March 9, 2020, there have been more than 60,000 total home deliveries.
Families with school children represent a segment of the community facing unique need as parents have lost jobs and children could not attend school. In collaboration with districts countywide, the Foodbank provided boxes of healthy groceries and fresh produce to kids’ families at the same times and locations where they picked up school lunches.
To serve families experiencing the highest need, the Foodbank is collaborating with schools and other community organizations to broaden the reach of their award-winning Healthy School Pantry program. Adding to a base of six existing programs, the Foodbank has identified 10 more high-need neighborhoods countywide where new Healthy School Pantries will be launched in the coming year.
At a Healthy School Pantry, families receive nutritious groceries and fresh produce, and have access to health and nutrition education, recipes, and other services and resources from additional providers.
One of the most painful ironies of the pandemic has been that the ever-essential workers who provide healthy local produce for others have been least supported in providing their own families with that same nutritious food.
Launched in July through CAFB’s Food Access for Farmworkers Initiative (FAFI), the outreach program provides food in locations where high concentrations of farmworkers live. The reason this works better than providing food at work sites is that farmworkers often carpool to work or are transported there in vans. Shared vehicles would not have enough space to hold the food they receive.
Many of these farmworkers don’t have personal transportation, so they and their children can walk to food distribution sites and carry the food home easily.
The Foodbank is making the important effort to support education for Mixteco-speaking farmworkers. Mixteco is not a written language, and many Mixteco-speaking community members do not speak Spanish nor English, so this inclusive work has helped reach often-overlooked community members with critical nutritional information. The Foodbank’s FAFI program and partnership with Community Health Clinic (CHC) helped reduce the incidence rate of COVID-19 among farmworkers in Santa Barbara County from 18% to 4%.
The Foodbank’s FAFI program has served more than 4,800 unduplicated individuals, providing more than 200,000 pounds of food at five sites in north Santa Barbara County. The Foodbank aims to serve 500 families per month and expand locations for this program to other areas of the county. Below are just a few of the stories offered by FAFI participants in Santa Barbara County:
It is my first time coming to this food distribution, but my mother has been coming since it started. I know it really helped her out in making sure there was food to eat for my younger brothers. I really like the food that we have been receiving. It’s very nice having a neighborhood food distribution because before this program, we would have to walk all the way to the store and carry all our groceries all the way home. Now, we can easily walk here and back home since it is so close by.
“The Farmworker Program has made a huge difference for my family and me. Since the pandemic started there has been less work which is less money too, so this program has helped us out. We also have been liking the food we receive since it is typically food we would buy at the grocery store. Having a food distribution close to my home is something I really like because many of us do not have cars, so a neighborhood food distribution is accessible and makes it easy for us. While I wait in line and listen to the health educators, one thing I’ve learned is the importance of wearing a mask and keeping yourself away from others when you’re sick.”
“The Foodbank helps me tremendously as my children are home due to the coronavirus. I had to stop working to take care of the children and my husband is the only one working in the broccoli field. We counted on the school lunches throughout the year however this has changed and the cost of food is high. The Foodbank has made it possible for me to get by and survive through these changing times.”
These programs only touch the surface of what the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County does for their community. We are proud to have them as a CAFB member food bank. You can learn more about them at their website, or you can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
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