Investigative Beat Reporter
Glass House Farms and Staple released the High Hopes Capsule Collection on April 20 at 4:20 p.m. EST, promising to donate 100 percent of the proceeds to the food banks of New York City and Santa Barbara county. The capsule collection was a collaboration between respective cannabis and fashion industry legends from each coast to mitigate COVID-19 impacts for those struggling most with food insecurity in their communities.
The collaboration between the two brands started when the CEO of Glass House Farms, Graham Farrar, came up with the plan to help the communities. In an interview with The Bottom Line, Farrar stated how he had “been a fan of Staple and Jeff for a while now” and expressed, “We wanted to find a way to help out, and how do we do that? That’s where High Hopes comes in. We’re in this together and cannabis is a great tool in this time.” Farrar credits the design team at Staple for the execution of the front and back designs of the apparel in the collection, which sold out after four days of being posted to the Staple website.
Glass House Farms began in 2015 after Farrar partnered with investor Kyle Kazan to purchase the Carpinteria greenhouses he had begun cultivating at after a long career in tech. The company currently employs around 270 people year-round and has promoted a Keep the Lights initiative, which sets out to buy around 1,000 employee lunches a month to not only feed employees, but to also continue the cycle of business that allows local restaurants to stay afloat.
Surviving the economic downturn has been crucial, and the advice Farrar offered was, “The key thing, really with everything, is just don’t stop. Just got to keep going. Nobody knows what’s going to happen next. The point of life is to not know — if you knew, it would be kind of boring.”
The success of the collaboration helped bring some much-needed relief to a local community that has an unfortunate familiarity with food insecurity, which has been made worse by the ongoing pandemic. Farrar noted, “One of the things I think people don’t realize is that, even in our well-off area of Santa Barbara, there are still plenty of kids whose only good meal is once a day at school. So who is helping maintain that?” According to the Foodbank of Santa Barbara county’s May 2019 newsletter, Santa Barbara county has the highest child poverty rate in California, at 28.8 percent.
The closure of schools has made the transition from on-site meals to to-go meals even more crucial for families who may not be able to provide meals at home. This exceptional need is what spurred Glass House Farms’ Santa Barbara dispensary and CARP Growers (a collection of member farms in the Carpinteria Valley through the 93,103 funds) to make additional contributions to Santa Barbara’s Foodbank.
The Foodbank of Santa Barbara county has been active across the county in providing assistance for affected families during the national emergency. According to Hailey Phelan, the organization’s marketing coordinator, the Foodbank’s current donation drive is just under $630,000 of its recently increased $1 million goal. Prior to COVID-19, the organization served approximately 191,000 individuals per year; it’s now served 85,000 since January. A food distribution site in Santa Maria that normally provides groceries to 70 families now serves up to 600 families. The Foodbank currently estimates that every $1 contributed provides eight meals within the community.
“Glass House Farms recently became a supporter of the Foodbank, and we are very grateful for their contributions,” Phelan said. “We’ve received a really awesome outpouring of support from local businesses and individuals through fundraisers, donations, and contributions of time and food.” The Foodbank’s Instagram account has been reposting stories from the number of businesses countywide who have been holding raffles or donating their day’s proceeds to the organization.
Such generous action from all in the community, big and small, is a testament to our solidarity in these trying times.
If you’d like to learn more about hunger and food insecurity in the county, visit https://foodbanksbc.org/our-impact/explore-the-issues/.