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Monday, December 17 , 2018, 7:57 am | Overcast 53º


Foodbank Steps Up to the Plate for the Holidays

Agency allots $80,000 for strapped nonprofits to purchase more food for families in need

Thousands of working and underemployed families in Santa Barbara County feel the strain of the economy; as such, local nonprofits that assist people during tough times have seen both a dramatic increase in demand for their services, while also having their budgets slashed.

In response to this crisis, which peaks during the holiday season and cold winter months, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County has stepped up to the plate and committed to grant $80,000 from its own budget to key member agencies to empower them to immediately purchase more nutritional food.

The Foodbank provides food in bulk to 264 member nonprofits and programs countywide. These member agencies range from large organizations such as the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities and the Community Action Commission, to small church distributions, domestic violence shelters, in-treatment rehab homes and head start programs for preschoolers.

These organizations face increases of up to 35 percent in the need for their services, and now with a combination of the recession and winter months, a lot of people need food assistance.

“We needed to take extra steps to assist those organizations on the front line of emergency food distribution and feeding,” Foodbank Executive Director Erik Talkin said. “Every day we are searching for new ways of bringing nutritious food into our communities. While we get a lot of food donated generous individuals, local growers and statewide food distributors, we also have to purchase upwards of $1 million of food annually that cannot be donated.”

The Foodbank has tremendous purchasing power — leveraging its relationship with Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization — for every $1 invested in the Foodbank, it can purchase $15 worth of food.

The Foodbank has allocated an immediate $50,000 to 43 key agencies this week to assist them throughout the holidays. Another $30,000 is committed for January through the Children At Risk program to assist agencies that provide items like eggs, milk and protein to children and expectant mothers.

“We are very thankful for the food purchasing grant we received — it came at a really good time,” said Capt. Phil Smith of the Salvation Army Pantry. “The fact that the Foodbank can give key agencies unsolicited funds is huge and speaks to how they support their agencies.”

Smith added that the extra money will allow his organization to purchase extra food for the 400 families they serve this holiday season, especially high protein items such as whole chickens. He also pointed out that not only would the Salvation Army Pantry benefit, but also the Salvation Army Hospitality House, which got a separate unsolicited grant.

The $80,000 will come from additional fundraising initiatives the Foodbank has undertaken.

“The community has stepped up to support the Foodbank, because they know that in turn we support so many wonderful nonprofit agencies,” Talkin said. “Together we will ensure that holiday hunger is banished and replaced with healthy, nutritious food.”

A complete list of nonprofit agencies receiving an immediate $50,000 in food purchasing grants:

South County

Catholic Charities, Carpinteria
Catholic Charities, Isla Vista
Catholic Charities, Santa Barbara
Community Kitchen
Food from the Heart
Grace Lutheran Church Food Distribution
Salvation Army Hospitality House
Salvation Army Pantry
Santa Barbara Community Development Center, Iglesia Bautista El Calvario
Santa Barbara Community Development Center, Free Methodist Church
Santa Barbara Community Development Center, Food for Angels
Mental Health Housing
Santa Barbara Rescue Mission
Unity Shoppe
Word of Life Christian Church
Community Action Commission, Nutritional Program
Pacific Pride

North County

Beatitude House
Buellton Senior Center
Central Coast Rescue Mission
Christian Family Program
Coast Valley Worship Center
Guadalupe Hispanic Foursquare Church
Johnson Temple
Orcutt Presbyterian Church
Santa Maria Foursquare Church
Seventh Day Adventist Church
Vineyard Christian Fellowship
Centro Cristiano Pan de Vida
Pacific Christian Church Metro Kids
Good Samaritan Community Pantry
St. Peter’s Martha’s Meals Program
Assembly of God Church
Lompoc 4 Square Church
La Purisima Conception Church
Catholic Charities Lompoc
Catholic Charities Santa Maria
People Helping People, Santa Ynez Food Program
People Helping People, Los Alamos Food Program
Salvation Army Pantry
Transitions Mental Health, Gate House /  Santa Maria Recovery Learning Commuinity
Transitions Mental Health, Supported Housing
Transitions Mental Health, Lompoc Drop In Center

— Gina Fischer is a development associate for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.

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