Although the Santa Barbara County Foodbank's holiday food distribution started at 10:30 a.m., it was an early morning for hundreds of residents in Santa Maria.
“Our staff got here around 6:30 and talked to the people already waiting in their cars with their kids sleeping in the car who had arrived at five in the morning,” said Judith Smith-Meyer, the spokesperson for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.
The food bank was expecting around 500 families, but the line of cars was beyond that number.
“We will be bringing out more food than we had prepared for a distribution happening next weekend,” Smith-Meyer said.
One of those recipients was Estela Hernandez, who was excited about the donation to support her loved ones. Hernandez said she doesn’t know how to cook traditional turkey, so she’s adding a Mexican touch with a mole sauce.
Hernandez added that this giveaway allows her to use her grocery money to pay off other bills.
Edén Cuatepotzo said this distribution is saving him around $200.
The demand is visibly high, especially in the last three months.
“We served the second highest number of people that we have ever served except for the first three months of COVID when everyone had lost their job at the same moment,” Smith-Meyer explained.
Around 50 volunteers made this drive-through happen.
Tania Dunson, who volunteers with the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, drove with her daughter from Lompoc just to give back.
“We were waiting for her to get old enough to participate,” Dunson said.
Recipients got chicken, eggs, cheese, and produce, and larger families received a whole turkey
“They get a full dinner that’s not going to last for one day, it’s gonna last for a week or two. They get everything they need to go beyond Thanksgiving,” said Santa Maria City council member Etta Waterfield.
For information on how to volunteer at the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, click here.
“It’s just, in general, important to support your community. I mean, that is basically why we wanted to give back,” added Dunson. “It takes a village here, they need a lot of volunteers, they need a lot of help.”
KSBY’s Season of Hope campaign is in full swing. If you want to participate to support families in need this holiday season, click here, for a full list of drop-off locations.