SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif . - Since shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic began, members of the National Guard have been helping the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County pack, distribute and deliver food to people dealing with food insecurity across the county.
Foodbank CEO Erik Talkin said that about 40 National Guard members have been working across the Foodbank's four warehouses, while also delivering food to pickup sites and individual homes.
Talkin said Wednesday that the National Guard members allow the Foodbank to keep up with overwhelming demand and “be able to put on services that [it] just couldn’t do without them.”
“Typically in a year, we will distribute about 10 million pounds of fresh produce and dry goods,” he said. “This year, we’re on target to double that at around 20 million. So when you have that much food across four warehouses now… you really need a lot of help.”
National Guard members are providing that help—along with more volunteers stepping up in the county.
“It’s been a great mixture of people from all walks of life,” Talkin said. “People who live in Santa Barbara. People who are from out of state. And there’s just been an amazing feeling of working together for a common need that everyone understands.”
The National Guard is staying in Santa Barbara County on a month-by-month basis through at least the month of September.
Talkin said that the Foodbank hopes the members will be able to stay and continue their crucial work through at least the end of the year.
To learn more, donate or volunteer, you can visit the Foodbank's website.