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Foodbank of Santa Barbara County launches SAFE Food Net providing “Essential Services”


SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County has started an initiative called "Safe Access to Food for Everyone (SAFE) Food Net".

The food bank is considered an essential service so it is still open during Gov. Newsom's stay at home order.

“We established the SAFE Food Net to emphasize to the community that all Foodbank operations are conducted under impeccable safety protocols, with strict adherence to CDC and County Public Health recommendations,” explained Erik Talkin, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County CEO said in a news release.

Of the 50 SAFE Food Net distributions the Foodbank is operating, nearly 20 brand new emergency drive-thru food distributions.

Visiting community members answer three brief questions at the first stop: name, number in household and whether this is the first time they’re receiving food this month.

At the second stop, volunteers load food bags into the back of the vehicle, and recipients drive away with healthy groceries and fresh produce.

HOME DELIVERY FOR SENIORS: The Foodbank serves 20,000 low-income seniors across the county. All of those enrolled in the Foodbank’s Brown Bag programs will receive food delivered to their homes.

Due to senior quarantine recommendations, all seniors (60 and over, or 55 and over with a disability who self-certify, no doctor’s note required) may call the Foodbank to sign up to receive SAFE Food Net healthy groceries and fresh produce at home: (805) 967-5741.

Individual volunteer drivers may sign up to for home delivery routes; bags are left on doorsteps.

 The Foodbank is also partnering with the following local organizations to implement home deliveries: Community Partners in Caring in Santa Maria, Family Services Agency in Lompoc, and Easy Lift in Santa Barbara and other areas.

Others in the community who may need home delivery for any reason should reach out to the Santa Barbara Public Health Department at, or by calling 211.

ADDITIONAL WAREHOUSES: The Foodbank has signed lease agreements for additional warehouse space in both Santa Barbara and Santa Maria, doubling storage space and expanding volunteer service space to ensure greater numbers of volunteers can maintain social distancing at their shifts to enable the Foodbank to keep up with demand for pre-packed bags of food.

Last week, to meet growing need, the Foodbank purchased $100,000 in food that is difficult to source by donation. Nonperishable staples cost $70,000. Additional produce needed cost $22,000; $7,000 was spent on eggs; and $2,000 went to purchasing tortillas/bread.

Individuals may drop off home-grown produce or non-perishable foods at either of the Foodbank’s regular warehouses. Institutions and businesses with food to donate should call (805) 967-5741 to arrange for drop-off or pickup.

NATIONAL GUARD: The Foodbank has submitted a request to receive assistance from National Guard personnel currently dedicated to food distribution efforts.

The Foodbank is awaiting approval for its initial request of 20 personnel, with the possibility of that number reaching 40 to 60 additional troops.

The Foodbank would receive support from personnel out of Pt. Mugu. National Guard troops would serve at the Foodbank’s warehouses in logistics (operating forklifts, receiving food, packing bags, etc.), as drivers for home deliveries and delivering bagged food to distribution sites, and as volunteer leaders at SAFE Food Net locations.

Santa Barbara- S County / Santa Maria - North County

Bryce Hanamoto

Bryce Hanamoto is a producer at KEYT|KCOY|KKFX.