The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County suffered a fairly major loss last week when its big delivery truck toppled over at the entrance to Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The good news is that neither the driver nor the passenger, both members of the Army National Guard, were injured. Maybe shaken up, but not hurt.
The bad news is that most of the truck’s more than two-and-a-half tons of food could not be salvaged. The truck was hauling mixed produce, rice, beans, milk, cereal and water worth about $6,500, that had been intended for distribution at the Boys and Girls Club in Lompoc.
National Guard troops were ordered to Santa Barbara County by Gov. Gavin Newsom in mid-March, the mission being to help with pandemic-related operations. Records show the food truck wasn’t speeding or carrying too much weight. It was just old and decided to retire.
The Foodbank needs the public’s help throughout the year, but the need to help those who can’t afford food has never been more severe, due to the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to demonstrate its ability to do to people’s lives what gravity did to the Foodbank’s truck.
The fact is that folks at the Foodbank have been running as fast as they can trying to meet or simply keep up with demand. By the agency’s own reckoning, the call for its services has doubled over the past two months.
Another fact is that unless there is a miracle of some kind, the double load may continue into the foreseeable future. There are signs of the coronavirus slowing across California, mainly due to citizens exercising great caution, staying at home, and keeping a safe distance while out and about.
But even while locked down at home, we should all do what we can to help those in need, which in the Foodbank’s case, means donating food and/or cash, volunteering to help in any way you can, and if you are venturing out, support local events to offer help and support to the Foodbank.
For example, here in North County the Fess Parker Winery has bottled three of its limited-edition wines, proceeds from the sale of which benefit the Foodbank. There are more such events to be found on Foodbank’s social media platforms.
But at the moment, replacing the overturned delivery truck is the main focus. Yardi, a global high-tech company, has put up a $50,000 matching grant as a solid start to replacing the vehicle.
Foodbank has launched an online fundraising effort, and the matching grant, plus $20,000 from an insurance policy is a good start. The goal is to raise enough money to cover the cost of a new delivery vehicle that costs upward of $120,000. With any luck, the Foodbank would like to collect enough to buy two such vehicles.
We can only hope two new trucks will be enough to handle the demand for food deliveries, but that is yet another unknown in this pandemic, the conclusion of which is anyone’s guess.
And that is what makes the work of organizations such as the Foodbank so critically important to North County and its residents. Even as there is hope that a safe, measured reopening of businesses throughout the state will spur the local economy out of its lethargy, there also is the possibility that if things move too quickly, we could be back into crisis mode within a matter of weeks.
Meanwhile, let’s strive to do what strong communities do — work toward common goals.
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