Monthly Archives: October 2015

Santa Maria Empty Bowls Event on Wednesday

2017 SAVE THE DATE: 16th Annual Santa Maria Empty Bowls, October 25, 2017.

Custom ceramic bowls are ready, tasty soup committed and great raffle items secured for the 14th Annual Empty Bowls event slated for Wednesday, Oct. 28. at the Santa Maria Fairpark.

Although tickets for the 11:30 a.m. seating are virtually gone, the public is invited to purchase 2nd seating tickets at the door from noon until 1:00 p.m. The tickets are $25 for the event that concludes at 1:30 p.m.

This well-loved event raises funds to help the Foodbank address hunger and malnutrition in the Santa Maria Valley, where more than 57,000 people were aided last year.

The Foodbank is providing support to one out of every four people countywide with the assistance of more than 300 distribution programs.

In Santa Maria, agencies such as Catholic Charities, Salvation Army, Good Samaritan and scores of other groups with food programs are recipients of the Foodbank’s resource.

Come prepared to also enter into the Raffle Extravaganza fun. Raffle tickets will be on sale at the door with 5 for $5 and 25 for $20.

Guests will be able to choose among 55 raffle items and baskets for a chance to win.

At the end of the event, the colorful soup bowls selected by guests will go home with them as a reminder of the empty bowls needing to be filled every day in our community.

For more information about the event or Foodbank’s services, call Judi Monte, Development Manager, at 937-3422 x106.

About the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County

The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is transforming health by eliminating hunger and food insecurity through good nutrition and food literacy.

The Foodbank provides nourishment and education through its award-winning programs and a network of over 300 member non-profit partners.

In Santa Barbara County, one in four people receive food support from the Foodbank; over 146,000 unduplicated people of whom 35% are children. Last year, the Foodbank distributed 9.7 million pounds of food (over 4 million pounds was fresh produce).

For more information, visit


Meet at the market: produce in action


Each week we meet up with Katie Hershfelt of Cultivate Events as she chats with farmers, chefs and shoppers at the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers’ Market.

This week, she spoke with Erik Talkin, CEO of the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County and Alexa Senter, who coordinates the Food Bank’s Backyard Bounty program about the Food Action Plan.


According to Talkin, although Santa Barbara County is in the top 1% of agriculture producing counties in America, it is ranked 14th worst in California’s 58 counties in terms of food insecurity.

“We have amazing farmers markets, but there are barriers to access for lower income individuals and families,” he said, citing cost and a lack of nutrition education as the main problems.

Talkin hopes to address these barriers through the Food Action Plan. First, the plan breaks the food system down into different lenses, like food justice, agricultural viability and environment. Once the problems are understood within each lens, the Food Bank will work with various stakeholders like government officials, farmers, health department workers and nonprofit leaders to begin taking action in 2016.

For example, Talkin wants to tackle food access and justice issues by expanding personally grown produce.

“There are a lot of of restrictions, in Santa Barbara particularly, that stop people from using their front gardens to grow food,” said Talkin.

He hopes to create a second tier of farmers market, where people with lower incomes can purchase fresh produce at lower prices from those in their neighborhood.


In a way, that’s already happening. The Food Bank’s Backyard Bounty program exemplifies the type of action the Food Bank hopes to do more of through their plan.

“During the winter, when the rest of the country is experiencing actual winter, we have this bountiful crop of citrus fruit that’s growing,” said Alexa Senter, who coordinates the program.

Anyone with fruit trees can register online. Then, a group of volunteers will come to pick oranges, tangerines, lemons, persimmons and more, and distribute them to schools, shelters and other partner agencies.

“Otherwise it would go to waste, and we can put that food into the hands of people that need it really rapidly,” said Senter.

Senter hopes to host a weekly fresh food drive at the Saturday Santa Barbara Farmers Market. Anyone can drop off their extra produce, and farmers can donate their unsold goods at the end of the market day.


Local potters, artists, and students contribute to the Foodbank’s annual Empty Bowls event in Santa Maria

The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is part of a movement of Empty Bowls fundraiser events employed by food banks nationwide, and for more than a decade, the organization has filled bowls in Santa Barbara, Lompoc, and Santa Maria. This year’s Empty Bowls is the 14th annual event in Santa Maria and helps raise funds that go directly toward feeding hungry Santa Marians.

For those who have attended most, if not all, Empty Bowls events in Santa Maria, the Foodbank and the event come to mind every time they open their cupboard and see the bowls they take home, explained the organization’s development manager Judith Monte, who also coordinates Empty Bowls.

The Allan Hancock College ceramics department, led by fine arts instructor Bob Nichols, contributes literally hundreds of handmade bowls to Empty Bowls events across the Central Coast.

“I was just talking this morning with Mayor [Alice] Patino, who is our honorary chair this year, and she was talking about her stack of bowls that she has at home and loves to use,” Monte said. “The bowls serve as a keepsake, but also as a nice reminder that we need to fill the bowl every day, every week, every year right here in the community.”

The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is well connected with a network of local ceramicists and artists who donate hundreds of bowls each year. In this network, the hubs connecting professionals and students are local institutions, including the valley’s high schools and, of course, Allan Hancock College.

Hancock’s ceramics program is a powerhouse contributor to not just the Santa Maria Empty Bowls event, Monte explained, but several Empty Bowls fundraisers, including Lompoc and the Five Cities Homeless Coalition’s event. The program contributes literally hundreds of handcrafted, fired, and glazed bowls to each event.

Fine Arts Instructor Bob Nichols spearheads the massive contribution each year, giving demonstrations and guiding students through the bowl-making process. Nichols has several students in his advanced pottery class that have contributed to Empty Bowls across several years, and can attest to the difficulty of making a good bowl.

“We’ve got a lot of new students who are learning, and because Bob or anyone like us who has been doing it a while make it look easy, some of them get frustrated,” student potter Linda Rickett said. “It’s not as easy making a bowl as you would assume; it takes many years to develop those skills of making it a piece of clay, putting it on the wheel and centering it, opening it up, and actually lifting it up.”

Rickett is a returning contributor to the Empty Bowls event, she said, along with fellow students Val Roberts and Renee Bewley, who all crafted several dozen bowls each.

Several of the bowls donated by the Allan Hancock College ceramics department include a glaze the department makes from silt collected from the Santa Maria riverbed named Cuyamashino, Nichols explained, which is a unique glaze that can only be found at Hancock.

With their seasoned potters wheel skills, the ladies have been spending their time experimenting with a number of different glazes and glazing techniques, they explained.

“If I had only two bowls, I might feel nervous about glazing,” Roberts said, “but if I have three dozen bowls to make, I just have freedom to explore.”

These explorations could include double glazes, Rickett explained, or overlapping glaze work. A variety of hues adorn each bowl thanks to the choice of glaze, and some include several streaks of color swimming fluidly, yet set as stone.

Several bowls also feature a particular glaze that only comes from one place, Nichols explained, holding up a particular golden-bronze looking bowl.

“This glaze is called Cuyamashino—a name we gave it—and it grew out of a series of experiments we did with clay we collected from the Santa Maria River,” he said. “So it’s a local clay that’s mixed in with other ingredients, and you can see that it has a peculiar, iridescent sheen, and kind of metallic quality. And because it’s made locally with clay we have right here, it doesn’t exist anywhere else.”

Truly created from scratch, each bowl stands alone as a one-of-a-kind art piece, handcrafted with care by a seasoned vet or capable apprentice. The Hancock Ceramics Club actually funds the raw materials for the bowls with money raised during the biannual pottery sale—coming up on Dec. 4 and 5, Nichols reminded—so each student is free to donate as much time as they want.

Nichols said that his students get a chance to learn and expand their range of skill, while contributing to the community in a way they may not be able to otherwise. Nichols will also demonstrate bowl throwing with a potter’s wheel at the Empty Bowls event on Oct. 28, where local restaurants will serve up piping hot soup to fill the bowls that attendees get to take home.

Soup and support
Santa Maria Empty Bowls is a chance to select a beautiful handmade bowl and enjoy a selection of on Oct. 28 at 12:30 p.m. at the Santa Maria Fairpark, 937 S. Thornburg St., Santa Maria. Cost is $25. More info: 937-3422, Ext. 106, or

“I go to the event every year and demonstrate, and I get to see people walking around with their bowls,” he said, “and the community is just as engaged, but as recipients, in a very rich way.”

The event supports the Foodbank in a huge way, Monte explained. The organization is hoping to raise $40,000 from the event, she said, each dollar of which can go toward up to eight meals.

And after the event is over and the soup is gone, she explained, you still get to enjoy your bowl at home all you want.

“It’s nice, it’s a great conversation piece,” she said. “I had house guests in over the weekend and served dessert, and everybody had their own unique bowl, which is fun.”


Noozhawk: YStrive for Youth Nonprofit Wins Top Prize at Santa Barbara Fast Pitch 2015

Keith Terry of YStrive for Youth won the judges’ hearts and the top prize in the Social Venture Partners Santa Barbara Fast Pitch Thursday night. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

In just three minutes, Keith Terry convinced a Goleta crowd that his nonprofit YStrive for Youth, Inc. deserved $15,000 to further its mission.

Terry, the executive director of YStrive, won the top prize at the Social Venture Partners Santa Barbara Fast Pitch Thursday night.

He himself benefited from the type of program he now runs on the South Coast, which provides tutoring and mentoring for local youth and employment opportunities for people recently released from jail and prison.

The organization links people with the three businesses it runs – a carpet-cleaning company, a handyman company and a moving company – and with more funding, it can expand its services.

YStrive has been around for 10 years and helps rebuild families, Terry told the huge crowd at the grand finale of the Fast Pitch competition.

Ten nonprofit leaders pitched their ideas to a panel of community judges after two months of working with volunteer coaches and mentors to hone their quick pitches.

The stakes: $45,000 awarded to the top pitches.

The contenders: A field of 10 finalists who represent local nonprofit organizations.

Terry was the one cheering the loudest for his fellow finalists throughout the evening, but when he was announced as the winner, the entire crowd at the Deckers Brand Corporation Rotunda in Goleta went wild and gave him a standing ovation.

The audience-favorite award of $10,000 went to Tyler Speier representing the Isla Vista Youth Projects, Inc. which provides child care for low-income families in Isla Vista.

In a dramatic move that clearly stuck in everyone’s minds, he showed the audience dozens of pictures of adorable babies – the organization’s waiting list. There are 10,000 people living below the poverty line in I.V., not including students, he said.

“Whenever you show babies – that’s almost cheating,” joked judge Angel Martinez, chairman/CEO of Deckers, after the presentation.

The $5,000 sponsor prize went to Sue Eisaguirre of NatureTrack Foundation, which organizes free outdoor trail field trips for local schoolchildren during the school day. Last year, her organization served 3,000 local students and she hopes to reach even more in the future.

The $5,000 coach prize went to Melissa Fontaine from the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County for a health-education program that trains community health leaders. Ending hunger is more than handing out food, she said. “Stomachs may be full but poverty persists.”

Every finalist received $1,000 for his or her organization and gave passionate pitches at the finale event.

The full list of the top 10 finalists includes:

» Elizabeth Cordero, Lideres Campesinas

» Sue Eisaguirre, NatureTrack Foundation

» William Fiedtkou, Santa Barbara Youth Music Academy

» Melissa Fontaine, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County

» Kristen Hoye, Friendship Center Adult Day Services

» Jefferson Litten, Community Environmental Council

» Eder Gaona-Macedo, Future Leaders of America, Inc. (FLA)

» Sarah Rudd-Lawler, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Santa Barbara County, a Family Service Agency

» Tyler Speier, Isla Vista Youth Projects, Inc.

» Keith Terry, YStrive for Youth, Inc.

The night was emceed by Geoff Green, executive director of the Santa Barbara City College Foundation.

This year’s panel of judges included: Angel Martinez, chairman/CEO of Deckers Brand Corp.; Ron Gallo, president/CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation; Janet Garufis, president/CEO of Montecito Bank & Trust; Katrina Rogers, president of Fielding Graduate University; Seth Streeter, CEO of Mission Wealth; and 2014 Fast Pitch winner Bethany Markee, who is the director of food services for the Solvang School District.

The semi-finalists for 2015 include:

» Erika Adler, Postpartum Education for Parents (PEP)

» Eryn Eckert, Jodi House, Inc.

» Chuck Flacks, Central Coast Collaborative on Homelessness

» Christy Haynes, What is LOVE?

» Tracy Lang Wood, Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County

» Debbie Loucks, Join-Up International

» Paula Michal, Alano Club of Santa Barbara

» Marisa Pasquini, Alpha Resource Center

» Kathryn Scott, Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Maria Valley

» Mark Wilkinson, Santa Barbara Trails Council


Partners Summit at Pacifica Graduate Institute

Keynote speaker and honorable first district supervisor Salud Carbajal discussed the quality of our food distribution system, what it means when you eat “bad” food, and more at the Partner’s Summit at the Pacifica Graduate Institute on September 24th.

Highlights from Salud Carbajal’s speech:
“Simply put, bad food is bad for our health, bad for our environment, and  bad for our economy.”

“The question is- if we don’t find a way to improve coordination between the public, nonprofit and private sectors to change the quality of our food distribution system, what will the cost be in our future- in both lives lost and economic impacts?”

“On October 24, the 4th annual Family Day & Health Fair we will join Santa Barbara Open Streets Calles Vivas for the first time- bringing the Health Fair to this huge festival which promotes healthy living and activity by transforming Cabrillo Bvld. into a car free zone full of walking, rolling, dancing, skateboarding and many more healthy activities. We will focus on promoting access to medical care and having a medical home, and friendly, bilingual and culturally relevant education on why healthy eating and having an active, healthy family lifestyle is an important (and fun) form of preventative health care. When all families and individuals in our community are healthy, the community as a whole is a stronger and healthier place to live!”

“I believe, as the data shows, having a healthy food system is not just a public policy issue, it is a moral issue.  The most disadvantaged in our community are disproportionately affected by the current system since they have limited resources, opportunities and choices for healthy alternatives.”

Erik Talkin, the Foodbank’s CEO also presented, as well as Erin Hansen, Foodbank’s Community Nutrition Coordinator. All sessions at the event discussed nutrition education, advocacy, fundraising, data analysis, CalFresh, and more.

We are thrilled that so many of our partners collaborated and enjoyed the event! If we work together, we can reach our goal of ending hunger in Santa Barbara County.

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