There are a number of differing views on why gas prices are rising. There is, of course, the increased demand for oil and gas products and, in turn, our country’s obsession with driving large cars. However, what’s clear is soaring fuel costs can have unexpected consequences across the nation. The Community Kitchen of Santa Barbara is one of the institutions in Santa Barbara that’s beginning to feel the pinch.
A non-profit that serves free lunches served seven days a week at Casa Esperanza, the Community Kitchen offers over 120,000 meals per year, as well as sponsors food distribution centers, and a healthy snack program for at-risk children. Kitchen Board President Cheryl Young, who has been with the organization for eight years, explained that because the cost of fuel increases the cost of other products, including food and supplies, paying at the pump is hurting the stock of food at the kitchen. Young said that it costs more to pick up donated and purchased food and supplies, and due to the recent economy, donations are down because individuals and families have less discretionary funds. Furthermore, as it becomes more expensive to drive, it also becomes harder for volunteers to afford to stay involved in the program, and the Community Kitchen is dependent on volunteers in order to run. Volunteers can help serve meals, serve on events committees, serve on the Board, and pick up donated food, or donate financially.
Surprisingly, with all the wealth and beauty this community boasts, it also has one of the highest levels of “food insecurity” in the state. “The Community Kitchen partners with the Food Bank to supplement food for many of our neighbors in need,” Young said. “Individuals and families can pick up supplemental food at designated food distribution locals. The food distribution locations are neighborhood specific and within walking distance to particular neighborhoods.”
Young said the kitchen has seen an increase in the number of people coming in recently, and she credited that to the numbers of homeless in Santa Barbara.
The Community Kitchen is only one organization that provides food services and is open to anyone. Other organizations that provide meals or food include the Salvation Army, Unity Shop, Transition House, and the Rescue Mission, just to name to name a few.