May 23, 2024
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Donations roll in to help Food Bank of Santa Barbara County repair damaged building


The Food Bank of Santa Barbara County’s offices were damaged by a fallen tree on May 10. (courtesy photo)

The Food Bank of Santa Barbara County’s offices were damaged by a falling tree on May 10, and donors have stepped up since then with more than $50,000 to help pay for repairs.

Food Bank employees arrived the morning of May 11 to find that heavy winds the night before had toppled a eucalyptus tree onto the building, located at 4554 Hollister Ave., between Santa Barbara and Goleta.

The downstairs warehouses that hold food were undamaged, and the Food Bank’s distributions were not interrupted, but the offices upstairs were “completely crushed,” said Judith Smith-Meyer, the Food Bank’s senior communications manager. The worst damage was to a backup generator, “which kind of broke the fall of the tree” and will have to be replaced, Smith-Meyer said.

The office’s employees have been working from home since the tree fell, and the Food Bank isn’t sure yet how much the repairs will cost or how much its insurance will cover.

When word of the damage spread, donations began to roll in. LinkedIn and Yardi, both longtime Food Bank supporters, gave $15,000 each, Smith-Meyer said, and Jordano’s gave $10,000. Another $16,000 came in smaller gifts, ranging from $5 to $2,000.

“It was one of those really beautiful moments where the Santa Barbara community really comes out in force,” Smith-Meyer said. “That money will help us cover costs that may not be covered by insurance … and we’re going to need to replace that generator.”

The Food Bank is already planning to leave the Hollister Avenue location after 30 years there, but its new headquarters isn’t ready yet. The new spot is a dedicated warehouse in Goleta, while the current location was built as a fire station, not a warehouse, and lacks proper truck bays and other amenities.

The Food Bank owns its new property and has taken possession of the building, and has started a fundraising campaign to pay off its loans. The move to Goleta could stretch into 2023, though. The nonprofit’s offices will begin relocating over the summer, Smith-Meyer said, and the warehouse operations will come later.