Food From the Heart of Santa Barbara is working to raise $25,000 through a capital campaign to purchase a new walk-in refrigerator — a necessary addition for the nonprofit organization to support recent growth in the number of people it serves.
Food From the Heart delivers nutritious, restaurant-quality food to people homebound because of medical problems and unable to provide for themselves. Every Tuesday and Wednesday, volunteers from the organization meet at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Santa Barbara to prepare and package the food, then deliver it to the organization’s 140 clients in the area.
Board chairwoman Kelly Onnen said that with the group’s growing client base, its refrigerator can no longer hold the amount of donations it receives. She said the group also uses the larger refrigerator at First Presbyterian Church of Santa Barbara, but it’s at maximum capacity and it has become difficult to shuttle the food back and forth.
“We have continued to grow for a while now, and I think the fridge may turn things around for us and allow us to grow even more,” Onnen said. “It’s gotten to the point now where our needs for food delivery have become so high that the amount of food has become cumbersome to haul back and forth.”
Despite Food From the Heart’s continued growth, Onnen said it has remained relatively unknown to the community — something she hopes to change in order to solicit more donations.
“We have not hit the big time yet,” she said. “We are still sort of an under-the-radar nonprofit.”
According to Onnen, Food From the Heart has received a $5,000 grant earmarked specifically for buying the 8-foot-by-10-foot walk-in refrigerator, but it needs $20,000 more and is hopeful of soliciting large corporate donations or small checks from the public — anything helps, she said.
The fiberglass refrigerator the organization wants to purchase is portable and self-enclosed, and would be housed outdoors on the Trinity Lutheran campus.
Much of the food the group uses is donated from the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, grocery stores, restaurants and local farmers, who often contribute their leftover stocks after the Farmers Market. In fact, Onnen said the group’s largest expense is actually incurred from packaging the food, although some of the cost is defrayed through donations from Community West Bank.
The current refrigerator space is barely sufficient to store the amount of food needed to feed the expanding client base, however, and Onnen said the organization needs the new refrigerator if it is going to continue to grow.
Food From the Heart serves anyone experiencing a medical crisis free of charge, and clients either apply to be part of the program or are referred by other organizations. Onnen said she hopes that the group is able to make a difference in the lives of the people it serves.
“These people are all going through some sort of health crisis in their life such as cancer treatment, dialysis, broken limbs or whatever issues they may have,” she said. “We deliver the food every week for as long as they need to get through their crisis. It’s not only food delivery, it’s outreach delivery — we want to show our clients that there are people out there that care about them.”
Click here for more information about Food From the Heart, or call 805.898.3981. Click here to make an online donation to Food from the Heart or send checks to Food From the Heart, P.O. Box 3908, Santa Barbara 93130.