Drive-through donors divvy out dinners and dishes
Like a well-oiled machine, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County held a drive-through food and cookware drive, Fill the Foodbank!, Saturday.
More than 7,400 pounds of food and 1,100 pounds of cookware were brought to Santa Barbara, and well over 100 cars pulled through.
A handful of volunteers took on the task of removing boxes of kitchen utensils, appliances and non-perishable food items, making the process approximately a five-minute pit stop for donors. Cars were already packed in the drive-through line by 10:15 a.m., but the vehicles moved quickly.
“What we’re hoping to accomplish is fill the gap that we’re seeing with not being able to do our May Postal Drive (Stamp Out Hunger),” Jordan Jenkins, the leader of Fill the Foodbank!, told the News-Press Saturday morning.
She said that in 2019 — the last year the Foodbank was able to hold the big drive — they brought in nearly 60,000 pounds of food, which she said was “huge” for the program.
“So this is our pivot and our way of trying to make up for that, because we’re missing those donations. And then on top of that, we have so much need in the community because of COVID, so that’s what we’re hoping to do,” Ms. Jenkins said.
Volunteers at Fill the Foodbank! also collected cookware items, a new addition to the drive to help serve communities unable to afford utensils or appliances. The donations aim to assist community members who may have fallen into homelessness as a result of the pandemic, or currently reside in temporary or transitional housing.
“Right now, it’s really hard for people to get access to everything that they need,” Sabrina Humphrey, a biology student at UCSB and one of the volunteers at the food drive, told the News-Press. “Especially at the beginning of the pandemic, everything was selling out of the stores, no one could buy anything, everything was extremely high-priced, people were losing their jobs — all because of that, people couldn’t afford to get all the stuff they needed to cook for their families.”
Ms. Humphrey said she heard about the Foodbank through an underserved medicine class she’s enrolled in at UCSB, and was eager to volunteer to help improve the health of the community by transferring food and resources from those willing to give directly to those who need it.
“Not only is it important for us to have food for them to eat, but they need something to prepare it with, too,” she said.
Patty Evans is a seasoned volunteer for the Foodbank, and even brought her two children to help out — her son, Nick, a student at Dos Pueblos High School, and her daughter, Sarah, a student at Goleta Valley Junior High School.
“I want to instill in my kids the ability to focus on the community as a lifestyle choice,” Ms. Evans told the News-Press. “I think it’s important for all of us to partner with one another to make sure that everybody has access to food and the necessities in our community.”
The Foodbank’s COVID-19 response has consisted of 2.25 million pounds of healthy groceries and fresh produce and volunteers packing 6,000 grocery bags per week, according to the organization’s website. As of March, the Foodbank had gained more than 1,500 volunteers after the pandemic, and logged more than 9,000 volunteer hours over the course of COVID-19.
The volunteers simply responded to the increased need with increased resources — two new warehouses, more than 50 safe food distribution points, drive-through pantries, meal deliveries to seniors, and, on this past Saturday morning, several dozens of cookware items to give to those in need.
Ms. Evans said, “I think the need for cookware goes without recognition often, and I’m proud to be partnering with the Foodbank to collect the items that really enable people to serve balanced meals and proper nutrition to their families in this community.”
To learn more about the Foodbank or to donate, visit foodbanksbc.org.