Monthly Archives: December 2015

Santa Barbara County Foodbank Forced To Turn Away Food Because Of Inadequate Facilities

It’s Santa Barbara County’s largest supplier of food to those in need.

Foodbank of Santa Barbara County feeds about 140,000 people a year.  But, due to a problem with its facilities, it has to turn away millions of pounds of food donations annually.

KCLU’S Lance Orozco reports Foodbank is now asking the community for help in solving the problem.

Click on link to listen to/download story:  Foodbank Crisis


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Giving for all seasons

Thanksgiving 2015 is history, and we’re confident folks at the Santa Barbara County Foodbank are thankful that local citizens came through, again, to donate food for the holiday.

The Foodbank takes what is contributed and distributes it to more than 300 charitable agencies and organizations countywide. What the donations do is ensure, for a short time at least, that many of the thousands of Central Coast families living with food insecurity can put a meal on the table.

That takes care of Thanksgiving, but there’s still a lot to be done. The Christmas season is in full swing, and for many families the conflict goes something like this — toys and clothes for the kids, or food for the family? For those who’ve never faced such a dilemma, it’s harder than you can imagine.

We had occasion to drop off some food donations before Thanksgiving, and were a little surprised to see a line snaking out the door and onto the sidewalk in front of a distribution facility. People, waiting patiently for their turn to score some food.

We were also surprised that the parking lot was full of late-model vehicles, including a couple of luxury cars. We were curious, so as a women was putting sacks of donated groceries into the trunk of her Mercedes, we had to ask.

“Pardon me, ma’am, and I don’t mean to pry, but how can you afford a $70,000 car, but not food?” We tried hard not to come off as too confrontational. She didn’t blink an eye when responding.

“We lost everything, and they’re probably coming to get this car as soon as they can after the holidays.”

We thanked her and moved away. Judging from the crush of people awaiting charity, and the cars still arriving in the parking area, it was easy to guess her story was one that would be repeated, often, if others were asked.

It made us wonder about living in a land that offers so much, and in which wealth is an attainable goal — or at least the ability to provide the necessities for a family — yet we have so many who have so little.

Is something wrong in our society? Is our culture pointed in the wrong direction, and hopelessly superficial and self-serving?

It also made us wonder how a federal government could find itself $18 trillion in debt, paying for things government provides — and still have an ancient and failing infrastructure, and 50 million or so citizens going without food and other necessities.

While dwelling on those contradictions, we also wondered if the emphasis we place on the Christmas holiday spending orgy isn’t missing the point of the season. We know we are a nation fueled by commerce, and our economy’s success or failure often depends on how stores fare at the cash register between Black Friday and Christmas. We understand the concept, fully — we just wonder if that’s what this nation is all about.

Those are ponderous, troubling thoughts, problems whose solutions are difficult to identify and resolve. One thing we know for certain is there are thousands of hungry people, many of them children, in Santa Barbara County, and the Foodbank and its network of agencies do a marvelous job of helping put food on tables.

You make the choice between contributing food or toys for the Christmas season. Whatever you decide to do, we can guarantee only one thing — you will feel great when you give. In fact, it’s the best gift we can give ourselves this time of year.

Line-Up of Holiday Festivities to Usher in Holiday Season in Santa Barbara County

Parades on land and sea, festivals, concerts and more on tap beginning this weekend

Sunday night’s Parade Lights at the Santa Barbara Harbor is just one of many local holiday events planned over the next couple weeks.

Sunday night’s Parade Lights at the Santa Barbara Harbor is just one of many local holiday events planned over the next couple weeks. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Over 50,000 people are expected to line State Street Friday night to get a glimpses of the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization’s Holiday Parade, and the Christmas cheer will continue throughout the month with a host of holiday activities scheduled throughout the community.

Maggie Campbell, executive director of the Downtown Organization, said that more than 3,000 participants will take place in this year’s parade, the 63rd in the organization’s history.

The theme this year is “World A’Glow,” and attendees are encouraged to wear or bring items that glow to add to the festivities, Campbell said.

Twenty-five staffers and over 80 volunteers have been working on the parade to bring it to fruition on Friday night.

“We’ve been working on this for six months,” she said. “It’s our gift to the community. We really have a lot of fun doing it.”

The parade will begin at 6:30 p.m., and Campbell encouraged parade attendees to come down to State Street and “make a night of it,” enjoying dinner downtown as well as holiday shopping.

The parade will span State Street from Sola to Cota streets, and parking is free in any of the city lots during the parade, she said.

Also kicking off Friday night is the 11th Annual Westmont Christmas Festival, which will be held at First Presbyterian Church, 21 E. Constance Ave.

Music concerts will be held Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Also taking place nearby throughout the month, Paseo Nuevo mall is hosting a “nightly snowfall,” Monday through Saturday at 7 p.m. at 651 Paseo Nuevo in the center court area, where snow will fall on the large Christmas tree.

The snow will also fall on Sundays at 5 and 6 p.m.

The courtyard will also host live entertainment and Santa visits and photos for children, a schedule of which can be seen here.

Also on Friday night, the Julefest Tree Lighting Ceremony will be taking place in Solvang Park from 5 to 6:30 p.m., where music and dancing will take place along with a tree lighting.

On Saturday, Montecito Country Mart, 1016 Coast Village Road, will be welcoming visitors with 13 pop-up shops full of seasonal offerings, along with food offerings and complimentary valet parking and gift wrapping.

Activities for children will also be taking place on Dec. 5, 12 and 19, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., where small visitors can enjoy pony rides, face painting and pictures with Santa.

On Saturday and Sunday, Santa Barbara’s Public Market will be holding its Second Annual Holiday Festival, which will include a host of family-friendly activities like photos with Santa, free cookie decorating, classes and holiday caroling.

The market will be partnering with the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, and will be raising money on Sunday, Dec. 6, where a tasting passport from local merchants can be purchased for five dollars.

For a complete schedule of the market’s event line-up, click here.

On Sunday night, the 30th Annual Parade of Lights will take place as 25 boats show off their holiday decor beginning at 5:30 p.m.

This year’s theme for the event is “A Red, White & Blue Holiday” and is a tribute to local veterans.  Admission is free and viewers are invited to catch the best viewing location on Stearns Wharf and the breakwater.

The boating event will be preceded by a Santa’s Village event beginning at 3 p.m. on the City Pier in Santa Barbara Harbor, where children are invited to play in the snow and take a photo with Santa.

On Dec. 11, the Goleta Valley Community Center will host its holiday tree lighting from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The event is open to the public and will feature refreshments and entertainment, as well as an appearance by Santa.

On Saturday, Dec. 12, Carpinteria will be hosting its Holiday Spirit Parade at 3 p.m.

The parade route will start at 9th Street, turn left on Linden Avenue, continue up Linden Avenue, u-turn at the corner of Linden and Carpinteria Avenue and turn on to 6th Street to end at Parking Lot 1.

The Milpas Holiday Parade will also be held on Dec. 12 starting at 5:30 p.m.

That parade will begin at Canon Perdido and proceed down Milpas Street to Mason Street, and will feature live performances, children’s groups and classic cars.

Foodbank of Santa Barbara County seeking land donation

The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is seeking a donation of land in the Santa Barbara area for a new food warehouse.

Foodbank CEO Erik Talkin says the agency doesn’t have enough room to accept the food needed to serve people in the county and has to turn away about 2.2 million pounds of food every year. He says the current facility in Goleta does not have a loading dock, so much of the food that serves the South County has to be received at the North County warehouse.

The Foodbank leases its current South County warehouse from the County of Santa Barbara for $1 a year, but Foodbank officials say zoning restrictions prevent it from making any improvements.

The Foodbank is looking for land that is zoned industrial or commercial, 2-acres or larger, with or without a structure, on Santa Barbara County’s South Coast, with accessibility for large trucks, close to Highway 101, and parking for at least 30 vehicles. If the land already includes a building, officials ask that it be a minimum of 20,000 square feet of warehouse space, 3,000 square feet of cooler space, 4,500 square feet of office space, and 19 usable feet in height.

Join the Public Market Holiday Festival for Good Food and Family Fun

By Carrie Cooper for the Santa Barbara Public Market |

Take photos with Santa at the Public Market

The Santa Barbara Public Market invites the community to celebrate the most magical time of year at their second annual Holiday Festival, Saturday, Dec. 5 through Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015.

Join the market for this festive weekend of fun for the entire family, including photos with Santa, free cookie decorating, festive classes, holiday caroling and a delicious “Give Back” Tasting Passport throughout the market, benefiting the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.

‘Tis the season to give back, and the Public Market is pleased to partner with the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County this holiday season to help support their mission of feeding countless families and seniors and finding a solution for childhood hunger.

From 1 – 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, the Public Market invites the community to participate in a special “Give Back” Tasting Passport experience, where anyone can purchase a tasting passport for just $5 and enjoy food tastings from all market merchants. All passport proceeds benefit the Foodbank.

Tasting Passports are on sale now at the Public Market (inside Foragers Pantry or the main office kiosk) and are redeemable from 1 – 5 p.m. Sunday, December 6 only.

Don’t miss this fun-filled Holiday Festival at the Public Market! For full deta.ls on the Holiday Festival happenings, check out this lineup of events:

Saturday, Dec. 5

» Visit Santa Claus in The Kitchen. Bring your own cameras for photos.

» Free holiday cookie decorating in The Kitchen, while supplies last.

» Holiday arts and crafts with KnitFit.

​» Holiday caroling.

Sunday, Dec. 6

​» 10:30 a.m.: DIY holiday ornaments with Stabiles: Make your own unique ornaments! Tickets are $35. Click here for details, or call 805.770.7702 to reserve.

​» 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.: Seasonal Food Tasting Passport benefiting the Foodbank.

​» 2 p.m.: Holiday desserts cooking class with Leslie Thomas: Learn a healthy spin on traditional holiday desserts. Tickets are $20. Click here for details, call 805.770.7702 to reserve.

​» Holiday arts and crafts with KnitFit

​​» Live music.

For more information on the second annual Holiday Festival, click here. To reserve tickets for any of the holiday classes, call 805.770.7702.

Follow the Public Market on Instagram and like its Facebook page for updates on all of its holiday happenings!

Karen Telleen-Lawton: Produce Waste Provides Food for Thought

An estimated 40% of food produced in U.S. is never eaten

A weekly Community Supported Agriculture box of produce from John Givens Farm.

A weekly Community Supported Agriculture box of produce from John Givens Farm. (Karen Telleen-Lawton photo)

By Karen Telleen-Lawton, Noozhawk Columnist |

I admit it: I sort though produce bins to find the perfect avocado, sweet potato, or apple.

I search for the biggest bananas, especially if they’re priced by the piece. This yields me the best value, with a side benefit of “training” the grocer to negotiate for the best.

What I didn’t figure was the other side of the equation. An NPR story clued me in to how much fresh food in grocery stores is tossed away – much of it even before the “sell-by” date.

Some edibles are gathered and passed along to food banks, but not enough to serve the need: 13.5 percent of Santa Barbara County households (14.3 percent nationwide) are considered food insecure.

This means at some point during year they had difficulty providing enough food for all members due to lack of resources.

Meanwhile, 40 percent of U.S.-produced food is never eaten. Our demand for perfect produce is part of that.

Some is left to rot in the fields, some rots in our refrigerators, and some is scraped off our plates when we are over-served. Unless you compost, all of it ends up in the landfill, making up over 20 percent of solid refuse.

This waste costs resources not only in terms of dump space but production inputs, including water, fossil fuels, land resources, nutrients, and money.

According to a Community Environmental Council report, if food waste were a country, it would be the world’s third largest emitter of green house gases, behind the U.S. and China.

Santa Barbarans are taking a stand. In 2014, the CEC teamed up with the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County (FBSBC) to look at how the region’s food system can better support healthy people, a healthy economy, and a healthy environment.

Their report, authored by CEC CEO Sigrid Wright and Sarah Antonelli, a master’s candidate at UCSB’s Bren School, came out recently.

In an 18-month survey, they found anecdotally that 10-15 percent of food in compost bins beside grocery stores and hospitality businesses appears edible: much of it fresh produce.

Yet community nonprofit organizations are having a particularly difficult time providing fresh produce to clients as a result of drought. Produce donations to the Food Bank are down 75 percent in the last year.

The CEC found progress in several areas. The city of Santa Barbara is organizing voluntary commercial composting for restaurants and groceries.

The county’s pilot commercial food scraps collection program collects about a ton of food waste a week. The Foodbank rescued over 1,500 ton of food from grocers, growers, restaurants, and manufacturers in just one year.

California and the United States are also stepping up to the (dinner) plate. A state Assembly bill recently passed requiring businesses of a certain size to compost food, yard, and compostable wet goods (like paper towels) by April.

The Department of Agriculture and the EPA recently announced the first ever national food waste reduction goal: 50 percent by 2030.

Look for the CEC’s upcoming Food Action Plan, available early in 2016. They have surveyed every aspect of the food system: production, processing, distribution, access, consumption, and waste management. Then get ready to be part of the solution.

One way is to rescue blemished produce that will taste equally good. I will try to do that.

I will also listen to my mother’s voice in my head. When I couldn’t finish what I’d served myself, she’d rue that my eyes were bigger than my stomach.

If I can shrink my eyes, I can shrink my stomach and my footprint on the earth.