In response to the pandemic’s impact on food insecurity, Waypoint Church of Santa Barbara is hosting a drive-thru-style food drive April 4 to benefit the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.
Members of the Community Awareness Cohort at the church will be accepting donations from 10 a.m. to noon from the church’s parking lot, at 3942 La Colina Road. All volunteers will be masked and donors can drop off their canned foods and non-perishable goods contact-free.
Over the course of the pandemic, the local food bank witnessed a stark increase in the number of people facing food insecurity. Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the food bank has served more than 177,000 individuals countywide, according to its website.
The total number served during the pandemic outpaces any other crisis that has hit the county, including the government shutdown of 2019 when 51,000 were served and the Thomas Fire in 2017 when 37,000 were served, according to the organization’s website. Even now, food bank volunteers are packing and distributing 6,000 grocery bags per week.
“Since COVID-19 safety measures took effect, the Foodbank has tripled the amount of food it provides to community members facing hunger and food insecurity,” the website states.
The church’s Community Awareness Cohort was recently formed by members of the church and currently has 14 members. Melanie Avery, a member of the cohort, said the group was started to meet needs in the community without expecting anything in return.
“We realized that there’s a large number of us who really wanted to have so much more involvement in the community, and we felt like we’re in general, taking care of our own needs and there was a handful of us who felt we needed to take care of the community more while asking nothing in return,” Ms. Avery told the News-Press.
The group is hoping to expand its community outreach efforts in the coming months and intends to eventually start its own food pantry that will operate from Waypoint Church. This is the third food drive the cohort is hosting to benefit the local food bank, and the group plans to continue its efforts with a monthly food drive every third Thursday of the month.