The economic downturn is having the largest impact on Santa Barbara County’s poorest residents’ ability to stay healthy and productive by getting good nutrition.

To assist the community, Foodbank Executive Director Erik Talkin and the Foodbank’s Board of Directors have made the decision to invest an additional $100,000 in emergency and supplemental food sources and opportunities. The Foodbank is asking residents to assist in the effort by continuing to deepen their financial support of the organization.

“The funds will be used to make a major contribution to our $100,000 Emergency Food Purchase Plan, where we are having to find an extra $100,000 beyond funds already budgeted to buy food for those in need and feed families not only through the holiday period, but also in the lean period of January and February,” Talkin said. “We are faced with a food shortage, and the Foodbank is taking emergency steps to avert a food crisis.”

With businesses closing, people being laid off from their jobs and bills mounting, good nutrition is often the first thing to cut. The Foodbank is seeing those who were once donors to the organization now becoming clients instead and a rapid increase in the demand for food. The 220 social service organizations and churches (member agencies) that receive food through the Foodbank then distribute the food to their clients are seeing an increase of 25 percent to 35 percent of people in need for basic food items.

“People must realize the Foodbank is the only organization in Santa Barbara County with the capabilities to safely transport, store and distribute millions of pounds of food and fresh produce,” Talkin said. “With a fleet of trucks and over 30,000 square feet of warehouse space, the organization is dedicated and ready to act in this desperate situation.

“Sometimes you just have to step forward and decide that a serious course of action is required, and it must be undertaken despite the cost. The feeding of our community over the coming months is such a critical need it cannot be ignored.”

The community’s ongoing support will accomplish a number of immediate priorities: help offset the costs of the Produce Initiative, providing millions of pounds of fresh California produce to children, seniors, individuals and families; provide member agencies conducting emergency food distributions with additional resources for accessing more food from the Foodbank; and allow the Foodbank to purchase more high-quality foods and meats.

“We know this assistance will make the difference for the community over the winter months,” Talkin said.

Kerry Main Aller is Foodbank of Santa Barbara County‘s community relations manager.