Photo Essay: The Foodbank of S.B. County

Daniel Dreifuss Documents the Essential Work Being Done by the Nonprofit

Photo Essay: The Foodbank of S.B. County

Daniel Dreifuss Documents the Essential Work Being Done by the Nonprofit

Text and Photos by Daniel Dreifuss | Published July 8, 2020

When COVID-19 hit Santa Barbara County, it not only stopped our way of life but irrevocably changed it for many. On March 9, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County initiated its Disaster Feeding Plan to help keep those most affected by the pandemic from going hungry. Since then, the nonprofit has been giving out 65,000-85,000 pounds of food a day, which so far totals seven million pounds of food distributed to residents from Carpinteria to San Luis Obispo, with 54 pickup locations in between. That is 60 percent more food than the Foodbank delivered the previous year.

With the help of contributions, the Foodbank has been able to provide fresh fruits and vegetables as 50 percent of each distribution, and with the aid of partners such as the National Guard, more than 115,000 boxes of food have been delivered to residents who are unable to leave the house, with 22,893 of those being seniors and families facing extreme hardship.

To keep up with county residents’ needs, the Foodbank added more than 1,400 new volunteers, who have put in more than 6,800 hours of work. 

Since May, I have been documenting the scope and scale of the Foodbank’s operation — from the volunteers who pick the fruit to the organizations they’ve partnered with to the nonprofit’s administration that keeps the food coming in and going out.

The following photo essay is a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to feed more than 100,000 people a week. 

Pictured from left, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County volunteer Michelle Conran, National Guard Sergeant Ruby La, and Foodbank Warehouse Assistant Jesse Aguilar move a cart of fresh food in the early morning at the Foodbank’s South County warehouse in Santa Barbara. The Foodbank distributes between 65,000 and 85,000 pounds of food each day. In response to the Thomas Fire and 2018’s 1/9 Debris Flow, the Foodbank launched the Multi-Agency Disaster Feeding Plan, which was designed by a food distribution specialist.
Santa Barbara High students Noach Wood (left) and Andrew Douglas pick fruit from a community member’s yard to be donated to the Foodbank. Since March 9, 3.9 million pounds of food have been donated to the Foodbank — a 60 percent increase from 2019.
Foodbank’s South County community engagement coordinator, Jordan Jenkins (right), takes the volunteer Hanna Roodenrigs’s temperature before she enters the emergency warehouse in Goleta. Volunteers pack boxes and bags of food for distribution.
Foodbank volunteers and the National Guard work to fill boxes of food at its emergency warehouse in Goleta. Since March, they have packed more than 65,000 boxes.
Don Hall (pictured in the red shirt) brings in a pallet of fresh carrots to be packed up and distributed at Carpinteria Children’s Project, one of the Foodbank’s 54 pickup locations.
Foodbank volunteer Gayle Spiegle packs bags of fresh fruits and vegetables at Carpinteria Children’s Project.
South County Warehouse Manager Jesus Lopez (left) and Warehouse Supervisor Erasmo Zapien-Ybarra speak in the administration office at the Foodbank’s Santa Barbara warehouse. Due to increased demand of its services, the Foodbank has hired six temporary staff.
Foodbank volunteers load up cars with food to be distributed to community members who are unable to leave their home due to COVID-19. The nonprofit’s Brown Bag program for seniors had 1,300 enrollees prior to COVID; now there are 3,300 signed up for the service.
United States Army National Guardsman Mario Lopez-Casas delivers a box of fresh food; the Foodbank volunteers have made 21,500 home deliveries to seniors and families facing extreme medical hardships since March 9.
Foodbank volunteer and food recipient Tammy Craddick-Madrigal brings Maxine Bonner a meal made from Foodbank food.
United States Army National Guardsman Mario Lopez-Casas unloads boxes of food at the Santa Barbara Foodbank. They expect the need to continue throughout 2021, if not longer. The nonprofit is expecting a surge in need for food when the additional unemployment allocations, eviction moratorium, and other protective measures come to an end on August 1.

CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this story, the nonprofit Carpinteria Children’s Project was misidentified as Carpinteria Middle School in several captions. We regret the error.

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