Foodbank of Santa Barbara County says rising freight costs resulting in produce shortage

Posted at 5:19 PM, Apr 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-10 20:19:33-04

The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County says it’s facing a produce shortage and they’re asking for help locally. 

The shortage of produce stems from rising freight costs. Foodbank officials say the cost of transporting food has doubled or tripled in some cases due to a new regulation.

"What we are seeing in our industry right now is increased freight costs due to new regulations that federal standards have put in for trucking and hauling," said Paul Wilkins, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County Director of Operations. "It’s turning one or two-day deliveries into two or three-day deliveries."

The "Electronic Logging Devices and Hours of Service Supporting Documents" rule went into effect in December but the trickle down is being felt now.
"We are a bit remote as the freight trucking world is. It’s generally more expensive to make deliveries along the Central Coast of California because we aren’t really close regional hubs or distribution centers," Wilkins said.

The new regulations restrict the routes and hours of driver operations, plus how they log hours and document them. The Foodbank says this is adding to the time and cost of getting produce to their facility.

"Our fresh staple items like onions and potatoes are really being heavily impacted," Wilkins said.

Anything sourced from outside the region, like apples and carrots, is also being affected. The Foodbank says truckloads that used to cost $600 are now double or triple that. 

"When we see those estimates come our way, we’ve had to turn away those opportunities," Wilkins told KSBY News. "So we are facing a bit of a produce shortage right now. We’ve been able to continue to supply our clients and agencies with the produce that they’ve deemed necessary."

The Salvation Army is one of hundreds of clients served by the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. They provide a daily lunch and grocery items to families in need each month. All of the food comes from the Foodbank. 

"Fruit, lettuce, onions all of those things that we use every day in our kitchen, those are the things that we need here," said Lt. Patty Torres, Salvation Army. 

"We need more produce, local donations from our growers, individuals," Wilkins said. "We would like to see walk-ins of produce, any and all forms of fresh, viable produce that’s in good condition."

The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County gives away 10 million pounds of food each year. Half of that is produce. 

"We want to provide fresh produce for our clients," Lt. Torres said. "To have our local growers just step up and help out the community would be a tremendous help."

The California Association of Food Banks is working with the trucking industry to find a solution. 

The Foodbank says with some fair weather ahead, they hope to receive more local produce. 

Click here for more information on the Foodbank’s programs and to learn how to donate.