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Food bank serving tens of thousands on Central, South Coasts getting long sought new home

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Foodbank of Santa Barbara County
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Foodbank of Santa Barbara County raised $15 million to buy a badly needed new warehouse facility in Goleta, but still needs to raise $6 million more to help refurbish it.

Foodbank of Santa Barbara County's current facility is so small it frequently has to turn away food donations.

A non-profit agency which feeds tens of thousands of people in need a month on the Central and South Coasts needs some help itself, and is asking the community for support.

Foodbank of Santa Barbara County has been handing out a record amount of food during the last few years due to the pandemic. But, it's been frustrating for the the organization because they literally had to turn down some food donations because of a lack of adequate storage space.

"Our old warehouse on Hollister Avenue is a converted fire station," said
Eric Talkin, who is Foodbank’s Chief Executive Officer.

He says they literally have to turn down thousands of pounds of food a week because they don’t have the room to properly store it.

The non-profit now has an answer. It bought a massive, nearly 60,000 square foot warehouse in Goleta. It’s raised $15 million to pay for the Coramar Drive building in Goleta. They now need the community’s help in remodeling it to handle food.

"It needs a lot of work done to it. We need to build cooler freezers, we need to do the roof," said Talkin.

He said they’re trying to raise $6 million to refurbish the warehouse, as well as to support current food distribution programs.

On Saturday, September 18, Foodbank is going to give the community its first look at its new “Sharehouse” facility with what it’s calling the Sharehouse Festival.

Judith Smith-Meyer is with Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.

"We're inviting people out from 12 to 3 [p.m.]." said Smith-Meyer.

There will be cooking demonstrations, and disaster preparedness displays and information.

Talkin says during the pandemic, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County was supplying food to about 130,000 people a month. The numbers dropped earlier this year, but are now surging due the economic issues like higher gas and food prices.

Talkin says the goal is to raise the $6 million, and complete the renovation of the Goleta warehouse so it’s ready for use next summer.

He emphasizes that even for those not living with food insecurity, the warehouse facility could be a critical resource. It would be stocked in case the region is hit by a disaster like an earthquake which could close highways, and disrupt the supply chain to Southern Santa Barbara County.

Foodbank's Sharehouse Festival is from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at their Coramar Drive facility in Goleta. Admission is free, but if you want to attend you should pre-register on their website.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.