Thousands of local residents will be able to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, thanks to the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County’s annual turkey drive.
The food bank began collecting donated turkeys earlier this month and has distributed nearly 2,700 turkeys as of yesterday. Over 200 local agencies including the Salvation Army and the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission worked with the food bank to distribute the turkeys directly to those in need.
Kerry Main Aller, director of development and communications at the food bank, attributed the drive’s success to residents of the Santa Barbara community who were willing to spend a few hours or dollars on the cause.
“It affects us all when people don’t have food to eat,” Main Aller said. “We wouldn’t be able to distribute the millions of pounds of food if not for the volunteers and donations.”
Main Aller said that while there has been a sharp increase in food recipients due to the state of the economy, the number of donations has also risen.
“We are lucky enough that we have a giving community to the point where it’s almost overwhelming,” Main Aller said. “Folks will dig deep into their pockets. It might be a dollar, it might be five dollars or it might be $500. Luckily we live around a lot of people who really give from the heart.”
According to Main Aller, the food bank currently serves around 135,000 individuals per year, compared with 100,000 individuals in 2007.
The food bank’s affiliation with Feeding America — a large national network of food banks — has opened up new channels for donations as well.
“Working with Feeding America gives us so many more opportunities than if we were just a viable nonprofit food program,” Main Aller said. “We consider ourselves lucky to have partnerships with them because we’re able to leverage those dollars and stretch them as the growing need increases.”
The drive will conclude tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. Those interested in donating a turkey can drop it off at the food bank’s Santa Barbara or Santa Maria location.
The food bank will also begin collecting donations for this year’s Holiday Food Drive, and is asking community members to donate non-perishable items. Bright green barrels for donations will be placed at all Albertsons grocery stores in the county beginning Dec. 1.