The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County has delivered more than 1.1 million pounds of food in the past month, in response the COVID-19 pandemic.
Judith Smith-Meyer, marketing communications manager for the foodbank, revealed the information at Wednesday’s afternoon COVID-19 county press conference.
The foodbank has served about 77,000 pounds of food a day, half of which is produce, she said.
The organization has delivered 3,600 meals to seniors and “that number is growing by 100 a day.”
“This is a health crisis,” Smith-Meyer said. “This is no time to try to eke by on instant ramen or other cheap prepared foods. You need to keep healthy and good nutrition is one of the key components of being able to do that.”
Smith-Meyer stressed that the foodbank is working to help people experiencing food insecurity throughout the county, and it has several programs that meet people’s needs.
The foodbank has 50 distributions sites throughout the county and 15 new drive-through sites. Workers will place the food in the trunk or in the back seat. There’s zero contact between the servers and the public.
“The foodbank of Santa Barbara County is ready to serve the entire community and we are here for everyone,” Smith-Meyer said.
She urged people to call 2-1-1 to set up senior home deliveries. The foodbank is offering free food delivery to people 60 and over, and those with disabilities 55 and over. No paperwork is required.
She said the organization is piloting a prepared-meals program, working with local restaurants, to provide “fresh and delicious meals” to their senior home-delivery clients.
“Seniors get great meals and we are also helping local restaurants keep their staffs employed and keep going with their businesses,” Smith-Meyer said. “We’re super proud of that and look forward to rolling that out in the next few weeks.”
The foodbank also plans to implement a text-messaging program in April, through which people can text their address to a foodbank phone number and receive information in English and Spanish about the nearest food-distribution center and receive other food-related information.
“We are really ready for this emergency based on lessons we learned as a community from the Thomas Fire and the 1/9 debris flow,” she said. “Providing food for people in Santa Barbara County in the case of a disaster is going to need to happen near people’s homes or at people’s homes.
“We learned this happened when you have six feet of mud in your driveway or if the freeway is disrupted and other transport channels are disrupted.”
Gregg Hart, chairman of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, said the foodbank is helping to ease the pain of this health crisis.
“It’s an incredibly well-oiled machine that is doing important work protecting our community from food insecurity,” Hart said.