Disaster Relief & Preparedness


The Foodbank trains for our disaster role on a regular basis.

We are the fiscal sponsors for VOAD-SBC (Volunteer Organizations Assisting in Disaster in Santa Barbara County, see more below) which works closely with the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management to ensure agencies coordinate their efforts in the most effective way.

As the lead organization for VOAD-SBC, Foodbank is fiscally and organizationally (logistically) responsible for coordinating and leading disaster response efforts when any disaster strikes within Santa Barbara County.

We are looking to expand our disaster response capacity over the coming years.  Our most pressing need is for a new South County warehouse to allow us to store enough food for the community. We are pursuing a number of possibilities, but real estate is the hardest challenge in the South County.


  • Training a cadre of nutrition ‘super volunteers’ ready at short notice to run food programs in specific areas.
  • New programmatic initiatives in food literacy to strengthen community resilience in disaster. People will be able to maintain good health even with very limited choice of food, because they have had the skills training.
  • New vehicles to replace our aging fleet and so increase our logistical readiness.
  • Disaster Summit to train our 300+ member agencies, so we can operate together most effectively in emergencies.

These steps will help us keep the community fed and healthy in times of crisis. This is your Foodbank and we are ready to offer assistance.



The Foodbank is a member of the Feeding America network of 200 food banks that span the entire country. We train together, advocate together, source food together.

And when disaster strikes, we work together.

When Ventura was overwhelmed during the early stage of the fire, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County stood ready to source and deliver food for our Feeding America sister foodbank to the south Food Share, Inc.

During the closure of the 101 freeway after the Montecito debris flow, Carpinteria was cut off from food resupply by our Santa Barbara warehouse.

All it took was one call to Food Share, Inc., our sister food bank in Ventura county, for them to start a resupply process that helped us ensure that our partners and emergency food distributions in Carpinteria kept enough healthy food entering the community.

Foodbank team members who live south of the closure and couldn’t make it work in Santa Barbara staffed many of the distributions.

We also collaborate with foodbank partners in San Luis Obispo County who can resupply north county, and even Fresno who can bring food in from the east.

Since the Thomas fire broke out on December 4, 2017, the Foodbank has increased programmatic, operational, communications and volunteer activities to serve all affected individuals and partner agencies. Foodbank has been active in meeting nutritional needs across a broad spectrum of the entire community, both those directly affected by the disaster and those suffering secondary effects of economic dislocation.

Foodbank’s operations staff responded to a situation where many of our member agencies were closed and not distributing food because of hazardous air quality. We organized new distributions and programs targeted to specific groups and increased individualized food deliveries and volunteer opportunities.

Throughout December, Foodbank provided food to the American Red Cross evacuation shelter at UCSB, distributed food at 10 emergency food distribution sites (110 separate food distributions) in Santa Barbara, Carpinteria and Goleta, and provided lunches to students who lost access to free or reduced price school lunches because of school closings (21 separate lunch distributions at five locations from Goleta to Carpinteria).

With the crises related to the Montecito Mudslide, the Foodbank arranged special food distributions providing fresh fruits and vegetables, nutritious snacks and lunches, and healthy groceries, free of charge, to evacuated persons, first responders, students and those facing economic dislocation from disaster-related loss of work and income.

In response to recent disasters in Santa Barbara County, the Foodbank has served 12,487 unduplicated clients 363,475 meals (461,613 pounds) from December 4, 2017 through January 31. Year over year, this represents 42% more clients and 47% more meals served.

We continued to serve affected individuals into February at the following sites:

  • Joseph Church, Carpinteria
  • Harding University Partnership School, Santa Barbara
  • Franklin Community Center, Santa Barbara
  • Santa Barbara County Local Assistance Center, Santa Barbara

We also supported the set-up of a new bi-weekly Mobile Farmers Market at Main School in Carpinteria to ensure ongoing availability of fresh produce in the southernmost part of the county.

Additionally, we responded to specific needs within the community by providing fresh produce to evacuated families from Montecito Union School in a community-wide collaboration at their temporary instruction site at Santa Barbra City College and fresh produce for dislocated individuals standing in line for hours at the East Beach post office.

The Foodbank has also given $20,000 in food grants to member agencies that provided nutrient dense food to those affected by the disaster. These include Unity Shoppe, Catholic Charities in Carpinteria, Boys & Girls Club, Salvation Army and Jewish Federation.

We expect that a heightened need will continue in the community due to prolonged economic impacts resulting from lost work, income, temporary housing costs, etc. As always, the Foodbank will adapt plans to provide food to all affected populations countywide.

Over the next 12 months, Foodbank will strengthen its disaster preparedness with:

  • New logistics equipment and additional food sourcing capacity.
  • New programmatic initiatives in food literacy.
  • New approaches to maximizing community engagement with the organization.
  • Countywide provision of expertise and supplies for family food needs.

A new Board structure is being designed to increase involvement in the Foodbank and will include focus on disaster training.


At the Foodbank, $1 = 8 meals. How? Volume purchase, grocery rescue, grower and retailer donations, gleaning local orchards and private gardens, national and statewide networks of foodbanks. Your monetary donation goes the furthest toward meeting evolving needs.

Donate online or call to donate (805) 967-5741 x 101 (M-F, 8am-5pm)

Volunteer opportunities include food sorting and bagging, staffing distribution sites or event tables, gleaning fresh fruit and vegetables from local orchards and gardens, and more!

Visit Foodbanksbc.org/give-help/volunteer
Call: 805-403-2471

Disaster Relief Overview

The Foodbank is part of VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), serving as the fiscal agent and leader. During a disaster, the Foodbank is prepared to respond with food and necessary water for those that become displaced.

Please visit the VOAD website for more information:  www.VOADsbc.org.

Be Prepared

Earthquakes, fire, flood or other disaster require immediate response. Planning ahead and practicing your response will help you react quickly. Planning ahead includes taking some time to collect emergency contact information, family medical information, key telephone numbers and insurance information. Below you will find information for getting started.

  1. Make an emergency plan
  2. Prepare an emergency kit
  3. Stay informed about current conditions

For information about disaster preparedness and creating a disaster preparedness kit that meet the needs of your home and family; please visit the following websites:

  • The state of California Office of Emergency Services has useful information for you, your family, home, and pets. Please visit Be Prepared California for more information. www.bepreparedcalifornia.ca.gov
  • The Santa Barbara County Chapter of the American Red Cross is the premier disaster response organization. They offer disaster preparedness classes, CPR and first aid training and numerous other emergency readiness workshops for you and your family. Please visit the Red Cross website. www.redcross.org/ca/santa-barbara
  • VOAD offers information and planning materials at their Emergency Preparedness for Individuals and Families web page.

Additional information to become familiar with:

In the event of an emergency evacuation, if there is a loss of communications and you and/or your family is separated from one another, decide on a safe place to meet (home, school, workplace, etc) and discuss the travel route that you will most likely use.

Find a safe place to go in and near your house where nothing can fall on you. Decide on a safe place to meet outside the house.
Remember how to ‘Drop, Cover, and Hold On’.

Install smoke alarms on each level of your home and check (every six months) to make sure they work (replace batteries when necessary).

  • Create two escape routes for your family.
  • Pick a safe place to meet outside of the house.
  • Conduct regular fire drills.
  • Have a working fire extinguisher with all adults in the home capable of operating the extinguisher.

If possible, take your emergency kit with you and always have a full tank of gas (this will allow you to leave quickly).

If it has been raining steadily, pay attention to TV and radio for the possibility of a flood. In the case of evacuation, make sure you take your emergency kit and always have a full tank of gas (this will allow you to leave quickly).

Who is Served

Anyone in Santa Barbara County that becomes displaced as a result of a local disaster including you, your family, your home, and pets.

Role in Continuum of Programs

The Foodbank is one of many local organizations that make up VOAD and each contributes based on its particular resources. The Foodbank provides a resource for food and water with distribution coordinated through other VOAD members such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army. The Foodbank’s two warehouse facilities can also act as a logistical and communication hub during a disaster.

Program Impact

The Foodbank’s participation in VOAD is meant to ensure that food is available to everyone in need due to a disaster in Santa Barbara County. It coordinates both food availability and distribution logistics with other local organizations utilizing their particular strengths and expertise to create a strong and prepared local relief and recovery resource.

Program Sites

The Foodbank’s participation in VOAD disaster relief will be based out of one or both of its warehouse facilities. Other participating organizations will have their own specific operational directives.

Program Partners

Please visit the VOAD website at www.VOADsbc.org for information on participating organizations.