Beginning April 6, Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara is loaning six of its youth busses to the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County to aid in the delivery of emergency food relief throughout the county. The additional vehicles will allow the Foodbank to expand its food delivery capacity to those who are home-bound, using drivers from the National Guard and the California Conservation Corps.

The youth busses – all 15-passenger vans – typically transport girls in grades TK-12 from area schools to Girls Inc.’s after-school programs, which have been temporarily canceled in response to the COVID-19 crisis and the state-mandated shelter at home order. Four of the vans will be stationed at the Foodbank’s warehouse in Santa Maria, and two will be stationed at the Santa Barbara warehouse. Additional Girls Inc. vans are on standby for use by the Foodbank as demand increases.

“Many of the girls we serve live with food scarcity during normal times, and that has only compounded with the loss of work for families,” said Barbara Ben-Horin, CEO of Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara. “If our transportation resources can help make sure that nutritious food is accessible to families in our community and throughout the county during this crisis, we want to do whatever we can to help make that happen so families have maybe one less thing to worry about in a day.”

Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara staff had participated in developing the Foodbank’s disaster feeding plan throughout the summer and fall of 2019. At that time, Girls Inc. identified its centers, commercial kitchens and transportation fleet as potential resources to help meet the community’s emergency feeding needs.

“Girls Inc. loaning vans from their fleet to the Foodbank allows us to expand home delivery of food to seniors while they are required to shelter in place,” added Erik Talkin, CEO of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. “Their generous support epitomizes the kind of partnership that is critical to the Foodbank being quickly able to meet the community’s increasing need for food during the COVID-19 crisis.”

Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara centers are anticipated to remain closed until at least June 15. During this time, staff are conducting ongoing outreach with girls and their families and offering modified programming to girls over virtual platforms.

About Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara

Our vision: empowered girls in an equitable society. For more than 60 years, Girls Inc. has inspired girls in our community to be strong, smart, and bold. As one 82 Girls Inc. affiliates in the U.S., we advance girls’ rights and opportunities through direct service and advocacy, based in the belief that every girl deserves the opportunity to grow up healthy, educated, and independent. In 2019, Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara served over 1,400 girls, ages 5-18, through after-school and summer camp enrichment programs, a dedicated teen center, and recreational-to-competitive gymnastics programs.

About Foodbank of Santa Barbara County

The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is transforming hunger into health by eliminating food insecurity through good nutrition and food literacy. The Foodbank provides nourishment and education through a network of more than 300 nonprofit community partners and more than 1,500 volunteers. In Santa Barbara County, one in four people receive food support from the Foodbank, which equates to more than 190,000 unduplicated people, 40% of whom are children. Last year, the Foodbank distributed 10 million pounds of food – nearly half of which was fresh produce. The Foodbank is assuming a major leadership role in countywide disaster preparedness with initiatives including disaster food boxes, disaster feeding plan, establishing a new south county warehouse and updating our trucks for safer food storage and transport.

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