During the coronavirus pandemic, many older community members, particularly those living alone, are not receiving the support they need, according to the Central Coast Community Action Commission (CAC), which has joined forces with several Santa Barbara County nonprofits to identify isolated seniors and connect them to essential services or critical needs, such as food and supplies.

The coalition is led by Family Service Agency of Santa Barbara County (FSA) and includes partner organizations, Commission for Senior Citizens, Center for Successful Aging, CAC, Carpinteria Children’s Project, Community Partners in Caring, Cuyama Valley Family Resource Center, Lompoc Valley Medical Center, Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization and Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People.

“During California’s stay at home order, older Californians rely on friends and neighbors to help them obtain basic necessities like groceries and prescriptions,” said Lisa Brabo, FSA executive director. “We are here to help those who might otherwise not have a consistent safety net of support to receive needed food and supplies.”

The provision of culturally competent outreach and assistance is a grassroots effort, community by community, stated the CAC. To obtain assistance, call the Senior Connection at (805) 925-9554.   

The project was initiated by a funding consortium of the James S. Bower Foundation, Wood-Claeyssens Foundation and an anonymous donor, and has received additional funding from the Zegar Family Foundation. To donate, contact FSA at (805) 965-1001 x 256 or visit FSAcares.org.

Cannabis dispensary donates $12k to Foodbank for Covid-19 response

At food distributions across the county, lines have grown as the financial strain of joblessness has pushed more families into food insecurity. The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County has seen demand double and now serves 1-in-3 Santa Barbara County residents, making continued funding and resources more important than ever during the pandemic.

The Farmacy of Santa Barbara, the city’s first retail cannabis store, raised funds over a six-week period to support the Foodbank and its mission of feeding the hungry. Over that period, 5 percent of sales from select brands totaling $8,000 and 5 percent of all sales on April 20 ($3,400) were collected to donate to the Foodbank. The Farmacy Give-Back Program is conducted in partnership with CARP Growers, the cannabis farmers group in Carpinteria, and its member farms. Five percent of sales of CARP-certified brands, grown in Carpinteria, go toward community causes.

Nathalie Keller, Foodbank development manager, said the donation has come at precisely the right time. Over 2 million pounds of food have been distributed throughout the county since March 9, when the pandemic and economic disruptions hit California. To meet the demand brought upon by Covid-19, Foodbank now operates 50 food distribution locations and supplies 6,000 stocked grocery bags each week through the sites.

“We have been fortunate to have partners all over the county who have stepped up in support of our efforts. The Foodbank has been able to grow its services very quickly in response to economic hardships that have pushed so many in the county into food insecurity,” Keller said.

“There is no greater need right now in the county than providing nutrition, and fortunately the Foodbank is very good at what it does,” said Graham Farrar, owner of the Farmacy. “The Foodbank has been everywhere and has done a remarkable job facing this challenge. We hope our contribution will help to sustain the effort and meet every need.”

The Farmacy of Santa Barbara initially kicked off its Give-Back Program over the holidays to benefit Freedom Warming Centers of Santa Barbara County, which provides pop-up homeless shelters on harsh winter nights.

Farrar also owns Glass House Farms in Carpinteria, a CARP member farm. Other Give-Back Program participating farms are Pacific Stone Brand, Autumn Brands, Josh D Farms, Cresco Cannabis and Headwaters.

“Voters approved legal cannabis in part because of the social benefit provided through taxes and shared success. Our customers at the Farmacy and farmers in Carpinteria all participate in this social benefit through our Give-Back Program, which is a beautiful, collaborative effort,” said Farrar, who is Vice President of CARP Growers.

Foodbank programs during Covid-19

1 in 3 SB County Residents Served

82,000 households served in the county

8,100 home deliveries

Feeding seniors program has increased 5-fold

10,000 bags of food delivered to low-income seniors

Call 211 or text Foodbank to receive services

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