Beginning this fall, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is deepening community partnerships to ensure more sectors of the community have access to nutritious food, including farmworkers and families of school children.
The Foodbank is collaborating with Promotores, Community Health Centers (CHC), and the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department Health Linkages Program to provide groceries and fresh produce, community resources and nutrition education to farmworkers in the county.
Distribution times are in the late afternoon after the farms shut down for the day and in neighborhoods with high concentrations of farmworker families.
“The COVID-19 crisis highlighted how critical it is to provide access to food at places and times when it works for our neighbors facing hunger,” said Lacey Baldiviez, the Foodbank’s director of community education and programs.
“We are grateful to partner with trusted organizations like Promotores, CHC and Health Linkages to meet members of the farmworker community where and when access is meaningful, and to provide not just nutritious food, but also education and resources that will improve health outcomes for their families,” Baldiviez said.
Since it launched in September, the farmworker outreach program has served more than 4,800 unduplicated individuals. Initially, a rapid cycle pilot served the community twice per week. From now through the end of the year, distributions will take place weekly.
In October, the Foodbank launched a collaboration with Goleta Union School District (GUSD) to provide convenient access for families to groceries, fresh fruits and vegetables at the same times when they pick up school meals.
Once a week, Foodbank is distributing boxes of healthy groceries — containing fresh produce and other perishable goods like eggs, pre-cooked chicken — at six GUSD schools and the Goleta Valley Community Center.
“Children thrive when the whole family is well-resourced, so we are thrilled to work with the Foodbank to ensure that families in our county can receive groceries, fresh fruits and vegetables to prepare at home at the same time they are picking up their school meals,” said Kimberly Leung, registered dietitian nutritionist and food services director at Goleta Union School District.
“We are stronger when we come together as a community to help one another,” she said.
The Foodbank is currently in conversation with other local school districts to launch similar programs to serve families across the county with convenient school site pick-up opportunities.
For more information, visit www.foodbanksbc.org.