By Raiza Giorgi
As the stay at home orders continue, there has been an increase in food insecurity in the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Barbara County residents. Without income sources, and many people not getting unemployment benefits and/or stimulus checks yet, places for food donations have been vital to fending off hunger.
“As people are having their saving dry up during this crisis, we want people to know that we are here to serve the entire community. If anyone needs help finding food safely, that is our main priority,” said Judith Smith-Meyer, communications manager of the FoodBank of Santa Barbara County.
Smith-Meyer was at the daily COVID-19 press briefing with Santa Barbara County Public Health officials yesterday, where they said only two cases have been added. The total for April 27 was 473 cases with 322 fully recovered. There are 99 people recovering at home, 38 in the hospitals with 11 of those in the ICU. Seven people have died, and county health clarified the sixth person passed at their home in Lompoc, not at Lompoc Valley Medical Center as previously reported.
Smith-Meyer said they have handed out 7,600 meals to date for seniors in need with 4,500 in North County and 3,000 in South County. They have 400 volunteers working at their 50 distribution and packing facilities and volunteers are always welcome. They are screened before each shift to ensure no one is sick.
For seniors looking for grocery delivery during the COVID-19 situation, please CALL 211. No sign-up for the Brown Bag Program is necessary at this point.
The Foodbank is also starting a text program next week where people can text their zip code and three nearby locations for food pick up will be texted back.
“We are also broadening the areas we serve and working with County administration to implement the statewide level of resources. We have bilingual assistance for anyone who needs translation as well,” Smith-Meyer said.
The Foodbank is partnering with local restaurants to provide nutritious meals for seniors and any restaurant interested should email Iris Kelly email@example.com if they want to get involved. Farmers that are concerned about tilling under crops for lack of places to send food to should also contact the Foodbank for assistance.
Individuals may drop off home-grown produce or non-perishable foods at either of the Foodbank’s regular warehouses. If you would like to donate food, please bring it to the warehouse at 4554 Hollister Ave. between 1 and 3pm, or place it in the bin outside of the warehouse located 490 W. Foster Rd. Institutions and businesses with food to donate should call (805) 967-5741 to arrange for drop-off or pickup.
They are currently doing a $100,000 matching campaign, and anyone who wants to donate can visit www.foodbanksbc.org for details.