“The need is higher than ever this year,” said Paul Wilkins, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County’s chief operations officer. “The Foodbank needs small turkeys and chickens to ensure everyone in our county can have a wholesome holiday dinner.” Donors to the nonprofit can also sponsor meals online through December 11 for the upcoming winter holidays. At the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission kitchen, volunteers are gearing up to serve more than 300 socially distanced meals to community members in need this Thanksgiving.
Donations are especially critical this year because shortages are expected at food banks across the country, said Wilkins, and Santa Barbara County is no exception — one quarter of county residents face hunger and food insecurity this holiday season. “Our community is facing rampant job losses and economic crisis,” Wilkins said, as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused businesses to close and workers to lose their jobs or have their hours significantly reduced. The Foodbank has served about 25 million pounds of food this year — more than twice the healthy groceries provided last year — to twice as many people.
Donations of fresh and frozen birds on Monday, November 23 will be provided to families by Thanksgiving. Foodbank is accepting them at its headquarters in Santa Barbara at 4554 Hollister from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Foodbank’s two locations in Santa Maria are at 490 West Foster Road (7:15 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and at Toyota of Santa Maria, 700 East Betteravia Road (7 a.m. to 6 p.m.).
The Santa Barbara Rescue Mission — an organization that provides emergency services and long-term recovery for the homeless and addicted — is also accepting turkeys, as well as canned food and monetary donations, ahead of its annual Thanksgiving Feast on November 25 from 4-6 p.m. The staff and men in the Rescue Mission’s 12-month residential recovery program will serve meals to community members in need during this socially distanced celebration at 535 East Yanonali Street.
According to Santa Barbara Rescue Mission President Rolf Geyling, “This Thanksgiving is going to be extra challenging for us because of the pandemic and ongoing restrictions. We are planning to provide thousands of meals needed this holiday season — including 300 just for Thanksgiving alone.”