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Foodbank’s Longest-Serving Employee Retires After Almost 27 Years

Foodbank CEO Erik Talkin and Fred Smith, who retired after 27 years working for the organization. Click to view larger
Foodbank CEO Erik Talkin and Fred Smith, who retired after 27 years working for the organization. (Foodbank of Santa Barbara County photo)

Foodbank of Santa Barbara County’s longest-serving employee, Fred Smith, has retired after nearly 27 years of service at the organization.

The Foodbank honored Smith for his outstanding service and commitment to the organization a day later at its annual summer celebration Friday, July 29.

A native to Santa Barbara, Smith spent several decades working in the local grocery industry before he started volunteering for the Foodbank in 1990.

After several years of volunteering, he began working as a warehouse employee and driver, often leaving for work at 3 a.m. to pick up food donations from donors as far away as Stockton.

Before the Foodbank had a warehouse in Santa Maria, Smith began a program that shuttled food from the Santa Barbara warehouse to churches and nonprofits throughout the Santa Maria Valley.

“We’ve expanded a lot,” Smith noted, saying that services have quadrupled since he started with the Foodbank. 

While he believes the organization has grown more efficient, he says he would “like to see the Foodbank get a warehouse in Santa Barbara comparable to Santa Maria, to give us ability to store things better and reach more people who need help. We’ve basically had the same amount of space in Santa Barbara since I started.”

Throughout his years of service Smith also worked as food solicitor, warehouse assistant and warehouse manager, and he has driven more than 300,000 miles, picking up vital donations for the Foodbank.

He has become one of the most recognizable faces at the Santa Barbara Foodbank, known for being a straight talker who’s always eager to help.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed all of this, especially the driving,” he said.

“The Foodbank is honored to recognize Fred for his many years of service to the Foodbank,” said Erik Talkin, the organization’s CEO. “It’s because of great loyalty and dedication like his that make the Foodbank such a strong organization, enabling us to continue to serve the people that need us the most and build a food secure community.”

Jennifer Zacharias is a publicist representing Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.


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