The Santa Barbara County Foodbank is providing healthy shelf-stable staples for federal workers affected by the ongoing government shutdown.
A foodbank spokeswoman said the program started last Friday and will continue Wednesday and Friday from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the foodbank warehouses in Santa Barbara, 4554 Hollister Ave., and Santa Maria, 490 W. Foster Road.
A Lompoc food distribution location was chosen Monday afternoon at First United Methodist Church, 925 N. F St.
Foodbank spokeswoman Judith Smith-Meyer said last week that Transportation Security Administration officials from the Santa Maria Public Airport reached out to the Foodbank to coordinate services for their employees.
“That was the first week where there wasn’t going to be a paycheck coming and they wanted to know what we could do,” said Ms. Smith-Meyer.
Foodbank leadership quickly decided to distribute food at their Santa Maria and Santa Barbara warehouses to serve affected federal employees throughout the county, she said.
“It’s not just the TSA, there’s the Forest Service and a (United States Department of Agriculture) office in Santa Maria, park rangers. We wanted to make sure we met that need.”
The Foodbank served around 1,800 pounds of food to around 50 families last Friday between Santa Barbara and Santa Maria, though the majority were from Santa Maria.
Ms. Smith-Meyer said the Foodbank is prepared for 60 families at each location on Wednesday to account for increased interest generated by social media and press coverage.
At the end of the week, Foodbank will evaluate the status of the government shutdown and determine if further food distribution is needed.
“We’re prepared to serve food as long as this need persists,” said Ms. Smith-Meyer.
Warehouse Manager Jesus Lopez said during the food distribution events, families can pick up bags of food filled with canned protein, pasta, sauce, peanut butter and other non-perishable food.
Fresh produce such as potatoes, celery, carrots and fruit will be distributed based on availability.
Mr. Lopez estimates the bags could feed a family of four for around two days.
According to its website, Foodbank’s mission is to end hunger in the county through education on smart shopping, budgeting, and food distribution through a network of 300 agencies and programs.
More information on food and meal services is available at foodbanksbc.org.