Turkeys and other Thanksgiving food given at drive-through sites in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria
Families came as early as 7 a.m. Wednesday in anticipation of receiving free turkeys and other Thanksgiving food in Santa Maria.
Several hours later, the food distribution began at drive-through locations in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara. The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County was the host at both sites.
“Both distributions were hugely successful,” Erik Talkin, the food bank’s CEO, told the News-Press about the giveaways of turkeys and other holiday items.
“In Santa Barbara, it was at the Franklin School, and the queue of cars was several streets around,” Mr. Talkin said. “I was nervous families were going to spend more in gas, idling in their cars than they would receive in food.”
On Wednesday, the Santa Barbara location served around 250 to 300 families, and the Santa Maria drive-through served 750 families. An average family is counted as having between four to six people.
“Each family got a large turkey, rice and beans, produce, tortillas, cheese, eggs, and canned goods. It’s more than enough for a Thanksgiving meal. This food will hopefully get people through several days,” said Mr. Talkin.
In Santa Barbara, 1st District Supervisor Das Williams helped with the distribution. He gave items such as eggs to people driving up in their cars.
“As our country and world face economic struggles, ongoing gun violence, and war, it is sobering to see our community coming together to provide essential food items during this holiday season so families in all forms can continue to come together,” Supervisor Williams told the News-Press. “I am grateful to have been a part of the food distribution organized by the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. It was great to see all the families in our community that will be able enjoy a good meal this holiday.”
The News-Press asked Mr. Talkin if the large number of families at the two sites was an indicator of the state of the economy.
“A lot is related to inflation,” he said. “The things having the most inflation pressure are things like food and gas, and low-income families spend most of their income on those things. The first quarter of this fiscal year records the highest period of people served —111,000 unduplicated people, since the first quarter of COVID at 142,000 unduplicated people.
“We do distributions year round. What we see today is not that different from what we would see next week or last week,” Mr. Talkin said. ‘It indicates the enormous need from the community. The economic situation is challenging for people.”
Mr. Talkin noted the distribution efforts Wednesday featured much enthusiasm and an effort to make sure people’s needs were met.
“The focus was on communicating the Thanksgiving spirit and making sure people didn’t feel bad about needing food,” he said. “It was a great atmosphere with staff and volunteers. It was great to meet people and work together.”