Isla Vista Youth Projects recently opened a farm stand at the Isla Vista Children’s Center in partnership with the Veggie Rescue — a nonprofit organization that collects excess produce to redistribute to those in need. The duo aims to address food insecurity within the local community and provide participants with healthy food and recipes.
The food stand is located at 6842 Phelps Road in Goleta, Calif., and is open every first, second and fourth Thursday of each month. The organization also holds food distribution on the third Thursday of every month in partnership with the Santa Barbara County Foodbank.
The foodbank event is located at the Isla Vista Youth Projects (IVYP)’s Family Resource Center and is by appointment only. All produce is free and open to UCSB staff and faculty at both locations.
IVYP Executive Director Lori Goodman said that IVYP — founded in 1971 — aims to address a variety of issues that affect Isla Vista through support and leadership.
“IVYP mitigates the effects of poverty, racism and trauma by providing high-quality, trauma-informed childcare, comprehensive, culturally sensitive family support and visionary community leadership,” Goodman said. “Food insecurity is one of the highest needs that we see, and the way we address food insecurity is with a monthly food distribution.”
During remote learning amidst the pandemic, IVYP cooked meals for over 20 local organizations that address food insecurity, employing UC Santa Barbara’s kitchen facilities and staff. At its height, the program served up to 500 families a day.
After the campus returned to in-person instruction, the program sought to find new avenues through which to reduce food insecurity.
“We connected with this organization called Veggie Rescue, which gets the produce that was not sold at the farmer’s markets and its farms and redistributes it to nonprofits,” Special Projects Manager Rachel Manovich explained
Diana O’Connell, the executive director of Veggie Rescue, described the organization as a “food rescue” nonprofit that receives food from farmer partners, food distribution companies and wholesalers and redistributes it in an effort to prevent food waste and feed local communities.
“We distribute to over 60 nonprofits in the county, and almost 20% of the food we distribute goes to nonprofits in … the Santa Barbara area and Goleta and Isla Vista,” O’Connell said. “We offer whatever the farmers are growing; it’s very natural and seasonal.”
O’Connell connected with Manovich through a county-wide workgroup, and after learning more about the IVYP’s food distribution program, the two organizations began to work together.
“We’re always looking for programs that are basically connecting with people in the communities that need food assistance, and so whenever we find someone that has a good program, we will route some of the rescued food to them,” O’Connell said.
Manovich said that recipients use a variety of transportation methods to arrive at the vegetable stand, and that groups of people who arrive have been diverse and plentiful.
“We found that people come. People will walk, people will bike, people drive, people pick up for elderly people and themselves. So it’s been kind of really fun to see the different groups that actually come. And we serve a lot of people,” Manovich said.
In 2020, 2,333 pounds of food were donated to the Isla Vista Youth Projects, and in 2021, that number jumped to 16,303 pounds. So far this year, the organization has received 2,643 pounds. In total, the group received 21,279 pounds of food, which equals about 17,662 meals and is worth about $37,238.