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THE FOODBANK OF SANTA BARBARA COUNTY

February 12, 2024

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The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County stands as a beacon of hope and transformation. Beyond its role as a provider of sustenance, the Foodbank is pioneering a movement to cultivate a healthier and more vibrant community. This organization's unwavering commitment to the community features experiences not just designed to end hunger but to create a comprehensive journey towards holistic well-being. As such, The Foodbank's vision extends far beyond the immediate, seeking to nourish not only the bodies but also the spirits of the individuals who live here, sowing the seeds of health, fostering resilience, and instigating positive change within the fabric of Santa Barbara County.


A smiling female Foodbank of Santa Barbara County volunteer giving a woman a bag of vegetables.

What Does That Mean? How Are Those Goals Being Implemented?

Mission Beyond Hunger
The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County has carved its niche as a leader and expert in enhancing the nutritional health of the region. With a mission to end hunger and elevate the health of Santa Barbara County through good nutrition, the Foodbank goes beyond the traditional role of similar nonprofits to bring health and vitality to locals.

"We're rewriting the narrative on what a food bank means," explains Alanie Rossell, Digital Engagement Specialist at Foodbank of Santa Barbara. "It's not just a bank of food; it's a safe space where anyone of any culture, age, or ethnicity can come to seek nutritious free foods, nutrition education programs and other great community resources. The Foodbank isn't only for the unhoused; it's for all types of neighbors."

She goes on to say, "Imagine the student who skips a meal to pay for textbooks or the mom who provides meals for her kids but goes hungry due to the high cost of living. You can have a job but still struggle to afford daily meals. The Foodbank of Santa Barbara is here, free from judgment, as a supportive resource throughout your life's journey. And with our Myth-Busting Mondays series, we're challenging stereotypes and debunking misconceptions, helping to destigmatize seeking food assistance and visiting the Foodbank. Please join us in rewriting the narrative and creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for all."

A gold-colored flyer from the Foodbank Santa Barbara County about honoring heritage through food with verbiage and pictures of food.

Providing the Basics, Plus Much More
A food bank typically provides sustenance, but the organization in Santa Barbara County goes the extra mile by offering important program complements including nutrition education, disaster preparedness, environmental sustainability, and community resilience. This comprehensive approach aims to eradicate the underlying causes of malnutrition and malnourishment, providing a holistic solution for the entire county.

A man holding a basket of vibrantly colored  fruits and vegetables with a child picking an orange from the basket.

Nutrition Education
Central to the local not-for-profit's strategy is the commitment to transform hunger into health through food literacy. By combining nourishment, education, and empowerment, the Foodbank builds a skill set designed to empower individuals to care for themselves through responsible food buying, cooking, and usage. Their nationally recognized continuum of nutrition programs spans from preschool to elder education, catering to families, children, and seniors alike.

The Foodbank Santa Barbara County truck with vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables painted on the side.

Disaster Preparedness
In times of crisis, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County stands as a lifeline for the community. Serving as the primary nutrition resource during emergencies, it plays a crucial role in Santa Barbara County's disaster preparedness. As the lead organization of Volunteer Organizations Assisting in Disaster in Santa Barbara County (VOAD-SBC), the organization ensures community relief and imparts essential preparedness education. Since the challenging times of the Thomas Fire and 1/9 Debris Flow in Montecito, the Foodbank has implemented emergency food box systems, initiated county-wide emergency feeding plans, and conducted preparedness conferences to enhance plans and communication with partners.

The facade of a building with columns in Santa Barbara with people milling about in front of it.

Community Resilience
Collaborating with local non-profit organizations, the Foodbank strengthens community resilience. The Food Action Plan, intertwined with nutrition education and disaster preparedness initiatives, addresses local food system sustainability and responsible usage. This holistic approach creates a long-term roadmap for the county's economy, health, and foodshed. By distributing nourishment to other non-profits, the Foodbank ensures a broader reach to those seeking assistance, building a robust network of support.

"We're rewriting the narrative on what the Foodbank means," explains Alanie Rossell, Digital Engagement Specialist at Foodbank Santa Barbara. "It's not just a bank of food; it's a safe space where anyone of any culture, age, or ethnicity can come to seek nutritious free foods, nutrition education programs and other great community resources. The Foodbank isn't only for the unhoused; it's for all types of neighbors." 

She goes on to say, "Imagine the student who skips a meal to pay for textbooks or the mom who provides meals for her kids but goes hungry due to the high cost of living. You can have a job but still struggle to afford daily meals. Foodbank Santa Barbara is here, free from judgment, as a supportive resource throughout your life's journey. And with our Myth-Busting Mondays series, we're challenging stereotypes and debunking misconceptions, helping to destigmatize seeking food assistance and visiting the foodbank. Join us in rewriting the narrative and creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for all."

Vital Programs of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County

In addition to the Food Action Plan, some of the other meaningful programs provided by The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County include:

  • Feed the Future, a series of innovative initiatives fostering nutritional independence and health in children from the womb to high school graduation.
  • The Older Adult Nutrition Program serves nearly 1,200 low-income elderly adults, providing crucial support for those struggling with housing, healthcare, and basic needs on fixed incomes.
  • The Healthy School Pantry program is a monthly after-school “health fair” for children and families, featuring nutritious food and more. This program has garnered awards for its impact.
  • The Mobile Farmers Market is a produce Initiative designed to deliver in-season fruits and vegetables weekly to six nutritionally underserved communities countywide through Foodbank Mobile Farmer’s Markets operating via community centers and churches.
  • The Mobile Food Pantry Program extends food distributions to underserved communities across Santa Barbara County, offering essential nutritional items such as rice, beans, canned goods, bread, protein items, and fresh produce.
  • The group's Emergency Feeding Plan focuses on improving county-wide preparedness in the event of a disaster, collaborating with more than 30 organizations, including nonprofits, and county and city offices, to develop the Multi-Agency Disaster Feeding Plan for Santa Barbara County.

Follow the Foodbank on Instagram for more info on resources within the community as well as videos on debunking misconceptions.

Now you know, in the societal heart of Santa Barbara County, the Foodbank is not just a lifeline during challenging times; it's a catalyst for positive change. Through education, preparedness, and resilience-building, this important 501(c)(3) is sowing the seeds of health, nourishing bodies, minds, and spirits in our county.


So, let me handle the sale or purchase of your home here; granting you the luxury of time to focus on your priorities, like volunteering, perhaps. No time to volunteer? The organization also needs donations to leverage their unique bulk buying power and relationships to maximize the amount of food purchased per dollar. As we strive to build a better community, consider supporting the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.



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