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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on February 1st, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 48 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 19, Issue 48

Foodbank to continue distributions for federal employees in wake of shutdown's end

By KASEY BUBNASH

The partial government shutdown ended—for now—and local federal employees were back at work on Jan. 28, but the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County will continue distributing free food to those impacted by the shutdown through Feb. 8.


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Local furloughed federal employees line up to receive food at the Santa Barbara County Foodbank’s Santa Maria location on Jan. 11. The event was the first in a series of distributions aimed at helping federal employees who are going without pay during the government shutdown.
PHOTO BY KASEY BUBNASH

“We realize that the moment a paycheck comes in doesn’t mean everyone will be instantly relieved,” said Judith Smith-Meyer, the Foodbank’s marketing communications manager.

Bills have been piling up for many of the local employees who’ve been going without pay the past month, Smith-Meyer said, and the Foodbank plans to host four additional food distributions in the next two weeks to help impacted families as they attempt to regain financial stability.

Employees at Lompoc’s Federal Correctional Institution were hit especially hard, according to Smith-Meyer, who said those employees were considered “essential,” and were forced to continue working without pay throughout the shutdown. Smith-Meyer said Foodbank employees helped a number of families in which both parents were employed by the prison.

“So the whole income system in the family was brought to a halt at that time,” she said.

The Foodbank’s distribution attendance rates jumped significantly after it opened a location at the Federal Correctional Facility Staff Training Center in Lompoc. During the Foodbank’s first distributions aimed specifically at furloughed federal employees on Jan. 11, it gave away 1,861 pounds of food to 50 families countywide, according to data collected by the Foodbank. Weeks later on Jan. 23, the Foodbank distributed 4,648 pounds of food to 106 families countywide.

The Lompoc location has had the highest rates of attendance, with a total of 155 families and 637 individuals attending distributions. So far, the Foodbank has given out 16,139 pounds of food to 370 families and 1,198 individuals countywide during its shutdown distributions, according to the data.

“It was useful,” Smith-Meyer said. “We were really happy to be of service.”

Still, none of those distributions were budgeted for or expected, and Smith-Meyer said the Foodbank is largely leaning on community donations and volunteers to help make up for that loss. So far, she said, the residents of Santa Barbara County have been hugely supportive.

Smith-Meyer said Foodbank staff will be keeping their eyes on any shutdown updates, and if another comes in three weeks, they’ll be prepared to start up the distributions again.

“None of us are totally beyond the reach of food insecurity,” she said.




Weekly Poll
What do you think of the county's new permitting process for hoop houses?

Farmers already have too many regulations to adhere to.
It was necessary to clarify the permitting process.
The process will help protect wildlife.
Cannabis growers are the problem, not other farmers!

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