At the Sharehouse Festival, Sept. 17, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County has started a four-month public campaign to support its new South County facility in Goleta.
The Foodbank aims to raise $6 million by Dec. 31 to fully outfit the new facility to meet its purpose: to ensure all county residents have access to the healthy food they need whether that means low-income community members facing the daily hunger, or the entire community in case of a large-scale disaster.
The culmination of a decade-long search for a comprehensive South County warehouse and administrative facility, the new Sharehouse is at 80 Coromar Drive in Goleta.
“The Sharehouse name indicates it will serve as more than just a warehouse; it will be a comprehensive center where the community can share food, education and hope,” said Foodbank CEO Erik Talkin.
“Once it becomes fully operational in summer 2023, we’ll have a facility to be of best possible service to the community moving foward,” he said.
“With 10 times more refrigeration space, we’ll be able to receive and distribute the 32,000 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables we currently turn away every week because our current warehouse has so little space,” Talkin said.
“For the first time, we’ll also be able to have at the ready all the food we’d need to serve south Santa Barbara County should a disaster close Highways 101 and 154.”
The Foodbank opened the new Sharehouse to the community at the Sharehouse Festival Sept. 17 with remarks by Talkin and presentation of a congressional certificate from Rep. Salud Carbajal.
Local elected officials joined the event including staff from offices of Carbajal, County Supervisors Joan Hartmann and Gregg Hart, with Goleta Mayor Pro Tempore Kyle Richards and City Council members Roger Aceves, Stuart Kasdin and James Kyriaco, and Santa Barbara City Council member Oscar Gutierrez.
The event featured food samples and cooking demonstration by Chef Preston Knox and his team at Barbareño; hands-on activities including kid-powered hummus-making on the Foodbank’s blender bike, led by Foodbank partner Apples to Zuchini Cooking School; packing up care bags for distribution to local unhoused residents; disaster readiness demonstrations; and interactive warehouse tours.
The finished Sharehouse will enable the Foodbank to meet community need with a fully functioning warehouse and food storage facility, Nutrition Promotion Center, volunteer space, and administrative offices.
Highlighting the Sharehouse Campaign will be topical education themes, such as Hunger Action Month in September (featuring Dine Out For Hunger with participating local restaurants), disaster readiness in October, and nutrition education in November.
Each month will feature a special giving day when matching gifts will double all donations. Those dates include Sharehouse Giving Day Oct. 13 and Giving Tuesday on Nov. 29.
Purchased in June 2021 with $3 million from Foodbank reserve funds and a loan from Montecito Bank & Trust, the Sharehouse still needs significant modifications to its 57,000- square-feet of warehouse space to upgrade and expand refrigeration, storage and transport capacity; and ready 20,000 square-feet of office space to house staff, education promotion initiatives and volunteer coordination and service.
The Foodbank has received matching grants from anonymous donors, the Bentson Foundation and Ella Fitzgerald Fund that will double donations. To make a contribution of any size, community members may visit www.FoodbankSBC.org/Sharehouse.
In addition to making individual donations, community members can support the Sharehouse by starting fundraisers with their neighbors, family, colleagues and civic or faith groups or clubs atwww.FoodbankSBC.org/Building-Readiness.
Those who could not attend the Sharehouse Festival may view a Sharehouse Virtual Tour and Videos event to see interview videos, take the online tour and learn more about the Sharehouse campaign. The online virtual tour and video event will be available on the Foodbank website throughout 2022.
The Foodbank needs a new facility in south county to solve challenges of lack of space, increasing food insecurity, and to ensure countywide disaster readiness.
Lack of Space:
The Foodbank’s current facility on Hollister Avenue is a former fire station that the Foodbank has made “work” for around 30 years and that only holds 15 percent of food needed in south county. Due to lack of space, the Foodbank turns away 32,000 pounds of donated produce each week, of 80,000 overall pounds of food it declines for the same reason.
The Foodbank currently trucks food 72 miles, handles it eight times and stores it in four different places in order to distribute it to south county residents in need.
Increasing Food Insecurity:
During the pandemic, 130,000 people received food monthly. In its wake, low-income residents continue to bear the brunt of ongoing economic challenges such as sustained, rising inflation, dramatically increasing food, gas and utility costs, wage stagnation and under- or unemployment that lingers following the Covid pandemic.
If an earthquake or fire shut down Highways 101 and 154, south county would have no emergency food. On any given day, more than 100,000 people could be stranded in south county, including those who work in south county but live in north county or points south of Santa Barbara County lines, as well as visiting tourists.
The Foodbank thanks the following organizations and individuals for their gifts to help purchase the Sharehouse: La Centra-Sumerlin Foundation; Riley and Susan Bechtel Foundation; California Department of Social Services; Paul and Patricia Bragg Foundation
Contributions from the following individuals and organizations further made the Sharehouse possible: Ashish Bhutani and Leslie Sweem Bhutani; Sheila and Tom Cullen; Kate Edwardson; G.A. Fowler Family Foundation; Godric Foundation; Jim and Pamela Houck; Hutton Parker Foundation; Ann Jackson Family Foundation; Donald E. and Sharon Lafler; Mericos Foundation; Hank and Mari Mitchel; John C. Mithun Foundation; Montecito Bank & Trust; Natalie Orfalea Foundation; Chuck and Missy Sheldon; Florence and Laurence Spungen Family Foundation; Williams-Corbett Foundation; Edwin and Jeanne Woods Family Foundation.
For more information, visit FoodbankSBC.org.