SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Crews at the food distribution site in Santa Ynez Valley are in a hurry.
"The food here goes pretty fast ... this morning we had five or six baskets of bread cakes and now it’s all gone," said assistant director Linda Linton of the Santa Ynez Valley Community Outreach.
"I’m grateful for the foodbank ... for it being there. I could get emotional," said client Lora Feller of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.
Now that CalFresh, a federally funded program that helps low-income families afford nutritious food is coming to an end, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is projecting the demand to skyrocket.
"The final emergency allotment will be paid out on March 26 … and we are expecting to see a massive influx of need ... especially in working families and seniors struggling to get by currently," said donor relations specialist Lane Bhutani of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.
"It's going to put a lot of pressure on the foodbank … there’s going to be a lot more needs … there’s going to be a lot more impact on our organization … to get more food ... find more food," said CEO Pam Gnekow of the Santa Ynez Valley Community Outreach.
The foodbank is hoping the community will show their support in light of the projected demand.
"Lunch! Everything! It’s a meal," said client James Butner of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.
"The average family is losing $200 per month so this is a huge impact on families with children," said corporate giving manager Jennifer Sanregret of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.
"My hope is we keep getting more grants so we keep feeding," said Linton.
As of January 2023, more than 32,000 households in Santa Barbara County needed the assistance of CalFresh to survive.
Households in Santa Barbara will receive their last CalFresh Emergency Allotment on March 26th.
The average household is now expected to lose approximately $200 per month.
Although general inflation has fallen, food prices have not.
In January, the Labor Department found that grocery prices were 11.3 percent higher than the year prior.
The “hunger cliff” created by the expiration of Emergency Allotments will leave families and older adults on fixed incomes scrambling to get by.
The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is still serving 20 percent more people than during pre-pandemic.
The local organization is hoping the community will show their support to bridge the gap that this loss of benefits will create.
For more information on how you can help the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, log onto: http:///www.foodbanksbc.org.