NEAR GOLETA, Calif. - A call out for volunteers and new food sources has been made by the FoodBank of Santa Barbara County.
This morning, a team was in a spaced-out assembly line bagging goods to be hauled out to distribution sites as fast as they can put them together.
Each worker wore gloves and followed social distancing rules as required by medical officials to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Among them was Rep. Salud Carbajal (D) 24th District who was filling brown bags with soup, pasta, peanut butter, canned vegetables and nuts.
He said, "I am here putting these bags together for families, individuals and seniors. I am with many volunteers who are being gracious and generous with their time."
FoodBank officials say volunteers should not just walk in but set up a schedule online at the FoodBank website. Others can donate food at a drop-off box right at the gate. Two locations are listed on their website.
Judith Smith-Meyer with the FoodBank says the demand will be unprecedented. More distribution sites are now posted on the website and they expect to see people they have never seen before.
"We are working with our grower partners to make sure that everyone gets fresh fruits and vegetables which everybody needs to keep healthy, and we are getting a lot of support," said Smith-Meyer. "So many sectors of the community coming to a halt at the same time means there is a huge sudden population that is going to be needing help with food that doesn't usually need that food."
If you have a surplus of food or work, for example, at a hotel with unused food products, she says, "we are ready to bring in any kind of rescued produce or produce that is not being sold at the markets. We are ready to accept that."
Smith-Meyer says stacks of food don't last long. "It will go right out. We are moving it quickly. There's a huge need."
Financial plans are in a spiral and, with housing a top priority, food can be backfilled with these types of services.
"The House and the Senate have passed and the President has signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. It provides billions of dollars to help with this type of food programs," said Carbajal. He said more people are now finding themselves in a "food insecure environment."
He says an infusion of government funding will help "workers and families, small businesses and those who are experiencing this challenge right now."
Carbajal said the range of the virus impacts is still to be determined through testing but, "individuals of all ages could fall into a situation where they are facing life-threatening circumstances." He urged younger people to be aware of how they can transmit the virus to an older loved one.
In viewing this medical crisis here and elsewhere he said, "The World Health Organization has deemed this coronavirus as a pandemic. [Compared to the flu] it can be more lethal in many ways," said Carbajal.
In his role as a member of Congress, he is still reaching out to constituents in a safe or remote way. "I need to hear first-hand how they are feeling and the fears and anxiety they are going through, so I can be their advocate in Washington."