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The following article was posted on February 7th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 49 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 19, Issue 49

Carbajal brings Foodbank CEO to State of the Union


Throughout and after the most recent government shutdown, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County distributed more than 21,000 pounds of food to 458 families of local furloughed federal employees.

That’s the kind of work U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) said he hoped to highlight at President Donald Trump’s second State of the Union address on Feb. 5 in Washington, D.C., which, as of Feb. 4, Carbajal planned to attend with Foodbank CEO Erik Talkin.

“I think Erik represents what our nonprofits, our safety net, is trying to do day in and day out to ensure that we’re providing food for low-income families,” Carbajal told the Sun.

Each member of Congress is granted a plus-one for the address, and Carbajal said he expected his other Democratic colleagues to bring individuals who had been “hurt” by the Trump administration’s handling of various issues, including recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) benefits, food stamp beneficiaries, and scientists researching climate change, among others.

The Foodbank, however, represents a number of problems that Americans have been forced to face recently, Carbajal said.

It’s always provided food to low-income families who are food insecure, an issue Carbajal said legislators need to address, possibly through an increase in the federal minimum wage, which Carbajal said is nowhere near livable and hasn’t been raised in decades. The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County also provided food to families throughout the Thomas Fire and mudslides, Carbajal said, disasters that are likely to become more common if climate change continues to be ignored.

And most recently, the Foodbank provided food to those who wouldn’t normally need the help, furloughed federal employees, who after missed paychecks could no longer afford food.

“So I wanted to highlight how Americans live, in general, paycheck to paycheck,” Carbajal said, “and when their livelihoods are threatened, it’s organizations like the Foodbank that step up to help those families through these crises.”

The shutdown impacted a vast number of people, Carbajal said, from federal employees, to contractors, to the many restaurants and businesses frequented by federal employees who could no longer afford to go out. On Feb. 4, prior to the State of the Union address, Carbajal said he hoped Trump would make it clear there would not be another shutdown under any circumstances.

Hours before the event on Feb. 5, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County CEO Talkin said he was excited and honored to attend the event and hoped to point out the struggles to find food that many families face year-round, not just during times of crisis.

Although it’s been a busy few years for the Foodbank—from providing food to thousands during the natural disasters, to providing for a whole new population during the shutdown—Talkin said those special distributions were relatively minute compared to the hundreds of thousands of pounds of food the organization gives out every year.

The Foodbank provides food for more than 170,000 county residents every year. That’s nearly 1 in 4. Nationwide, 1 in 6 Americans are food insecure, he said.

Still, with all that’s going on politically, Talkin said he wasn’t sure what to expect from the event.

“I have a totally open mind. I have no idea what I’m going to hear,” he said. “But I would hope that there is some recognition of working families and the struggles they go through.”

Weekly Poll
What do you think of the changes Santa Barbara County made to its cannabis ordinances?

It was too early to make any changes. The industry is still new.
The changes were necessary. Cannabis farms are ruining our quality of life.
The changes are too restrictive and could stifle a growing industry.
More changes are needed to address the odor problems and other issues.

| Poll Results