Please DIAL 211 for senior home delivery or with questions. 

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Provide relief to those struggling with the COVID-19 situation. 

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Guiding our Efforts: The Disaster Feeding Plan

Over the past 18 months, the Foodbank has led a community effort to create a Disaster Feeding Plan in collaboration with disaster and emergency response agencies in the government, health care, education and nonprofit sectors.  The plan helps ensure everyone in Santa Barbara County can be fed in case of a large-scale disaster. This plan was developed after lessons learned during the Thomas Fire and Debris Flow when many local residents sheltered in place and schools and businesses closed for prolonged periods. 

Late last week, the Disaster Feeding Plan Task Force convened for the first time. Member organizations reported the response they’ve seen to food distribution.

Other participants at the Feeding Plan Task Force activation include County of Santa Barbara Office of Emergency Management/Emergency Operations Center and Public Health Department, Red Cross, Southern Baptist Church, City of Carpinteria, City of Santa Maria Fire Department and Community Long-Term Recovery Group.

Steps Being Taken by the Foodbank to Prepare and Respond

Since Covid-19 safety measures took effect, the Foodbank has tripled the amount of food it normally provides to community members facing food hunger and food insecurity.

211 SAFE FOOD NET and SAFE HOME DELIVERY Hotline – Call 211

In collaboration with Community Action Commission and the City of Santa Maria, the Foodbank’s 211 community hotline is active. County residents may call 211 for information about ALL Foodbank emergency food resources, including SAFE Home Delivery – twice-monthly free home delivery for seniors 60+ or 55+ with a disability (People may self-certify their disability status; no doctor’s note needed.). The Foodbank has provided 3,000 home deliveries in two weeks as part of its Covid-19 response. At 211, the community can also find information about the Foodbank’s 50 SAFE Food Net food distribution sites, and Foodbank Frequently Asked Questions. For people calling from outside Santa Barbara County: 800-400-1572.


Annually, the Foodbank serves 20,000 low-income seniors across the county. All of those enrolled in the Foodbank’s Brown Bag programs will receive food delivered to their homes. Due to senior quarantine recommendations, all seniors (60 and over, or 55 and over with a disability who self-certify, no doctor’s note required) may call 211 the Foodbank to sign up to receive SAFE Food Net healthy groceries and fresh produce at home. If calling from outside the area, people can call 800-400-1572.

Individual volunteer drivers may sign up to for home delivery routes; bags are left on doorsteps.


With notification from Governor Newsom that all of California is on lockdown, the community may be assured that all Foodbank distributions and volunteer service fall into the sanctioned category of “essential services” and community members may participate with the full support of the State of California, and the Santa Barbara County Emergency Operations Center, Public Health Department, and Sheriff’s Department

Hand washing, sanitizer, disposable gloves and social distancing are all employed meticulously in all Foodbank interactions.

Of the 50 SAFE Food Net distributions the Foodbank is operating, nearly 20 brand new emergency drive-thru food distributions make receiving healthy food fast, easy, discreet and extremely safe. Visiting community members answer three brief questions at the first stop: name, number in household and whether this is the first time they’re receiving food this month. At the second stop, volunteers load food bags into the back of the vehicle, and recipients drive away with healthy groceries and fresh produce.


A visible, and staggering, increase in need for food is evolving throughout the county. Foodbank has tripled the amount of food it normally provides to community members facing food hunger and food insecurity.

Last week, to meet growing need, the Foodbank purchased $100,000 in food that is difficult to source by donation. Nonperishable staples cost $70,000. Additional produce needed cost $22,000; $7,000 was spent on eggs; and $2,000 went to purchasing tortillas/bread. USDA and TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program) emergency food is on its way and the new facilities allow for the Foodbank to process and store more community donations as well.

Individuals may drop off home-grown produce or non-perishable foods at either of the Foodbank’s regular warehouses. Institutions and businesses with food to donate should call (805) 967-5741 to arrange for drop-off or pickup.


20 National Guard personnel have joined the Foodbank to provide skilled labor support to meet increased operational volunteer/staffing needs. Number of personnel and length of deployment will be re-assessed as the crisis unfolds.


The Foodbank has signed temporary lease agreements for additional warehouse space in both Santa Barbara and Santa Maria, doubling storage space and expanding volunteer service space to ensure greater numbers of volunteers can maintain social distancing at their shifts to enable the Foodbank to keep up with demand for pre-packed bags of food.

Local updates and recommendations regarding COVID-19 are available from the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.

More Information

Residents needing assistance in meeting their nutritional needs may visit


or contact

North County (Santa Maria, Lompoc, Guadalupe, Buellton, Santa Ynez, Los Alamos, Santa Ynez): (805) 967-5741 ext. 305; or email: mbuenrostro@foodbanksbc.org

South County (Santa Barbara, Goleta, Carpinteria, Isla Vista): phone: (805) 967-5741 ext. 211; or email: ewoollard@foodbanksbc.org

Government, health and nonprofit partners may also contact the Foodbank directly for assistance: Jamie Diggs, Partner Services Manager, phone: (805) 967-5741 ext. 303; or email: jdiggs@foodbanksbc.org.

The Foodbank serves as the primary food resource during an emergency in Santa Barbara County. Operating as the lead organization of Volunteer Organizations Assisting in Disaster in Santa Barbara County (VOAD-SBC), we provide community relief and preparedness education.

Recently, our community faced several natural disasters, among them the devastating Thomas Fire and 1/9 Debris flow in Montecito. In response, the Foodbank and its 300+ member agencies accelerated our preparedness efforts. You can help our community be more prepared in the face of disaster.  

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5 More Ways You Can Help:

  1. Purchase an Emergency Food Box. For each box purchased, one is donated to a family facing food insecurity.
  2. Invest in quicker food delivery mechanisms: new vehicles allow the Foodbank to deliver food promptly in times of urgent need.
  3. Stay up-to-date with the latest emergency preparedness information. A great place to start is the county’s emergency website. For organizations, please see the key findings from our 25th Hour Disaster Preparedness Conference.
  4. Train with our volunteer force. We equip volunteers with the training to distribute food in emergency situations.  
  5. Be proactive in your community. Follow our emergency education programs and food literacy initiatives.





Emergency Food Boxes

These emergency boxes will ensure you and your family have access to food during a disaster. Along with emergency tools, each box contains enough food for one person, for one week. By purchasing a box, you are also providing one to a local low-income family: for every box purchased, the Foodbank gives one box to a family who cannot afford one.

Purchase a Disaster Box

Foodbank CEO, Erik Talkin, tested the box by eating only the food it contained for an entire week. Check out his experience here.



Our New and Improved Fleet

The Foodbank relies on our refrigerated trucks to safely store and distribute temperature-safe food during emergencies. We have begun updating our existing fleet of aging trucks, reducing the amount of spoiled food sent to the landfill, but with your support, we could maximize our food donations.

The generosity of our community helps meet our goal to end hunger. A special thank you to the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara for a generous grant that will pay 80% of the cost of a new Hino refrigerated box truck equipped with a lift gate, donation-tracking software and GPS system.


Feeding Plan

The Foodbank is working to continually improve county-wide preparedness in the event of a disaster. In partnership with over 30 organizations, the Foodbank has developed the Multi-Agency Disaster Feeding Plan for Santa Barbara County. It provides a scalable framework for coordinating emergency feeding efforts within the county’s geographical area. The plan is inclusive of the primary disaster feeding entities including governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs), and the private sector.

Read the entire Feeding Plan here

25th Hour: Disaster Preparedness Conference

In response to the Thomas Fire and 1/9 Debris Flow in Montecito, the Foodbank and its key local partners met to keep essential, life-saving services available during an emergency. Our discussions are summarized in the White Paper, where you can learn our plan in case of an emergency.

Read Here


We are the fiscal sponsors for VOAD-SBC, which works closely with the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management to meet the county’s emergency needs. Our role is to provide the food and water that our VOAD partners, such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army, then distribute.

Please visit the VOAD website for more information: sbcvoad.org.

We know that disasters can be scary; we’re here to help. 

Click here to learn more about household preparation for all types of disasters.