Monthly Archives: January 2016

Foodbank Receives $150K Grants from Walmart Foundation

Foodbank’s new Grocery Rescue van will make an appearance at the upcoming event.

Foodbank’s new Grocery Rescue van will make an appearance at the upcoming event.  (Foodbank of Santa Barbara County photo)

On Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County will hold an event to acknowledge multiple grants awarded by the Walmart Foundation.

Walmart Foundation grants help build a food secure community and provide needed equipment to assist in the effort.

City of Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino, County of Santa Barbara elected officials, the Foodbank’s board of directors and Walmart executives will attend the event.

The Foodbank has been awarded grants totaling more than $150,000 to help fund their “Building a Food Secure Community” project, enroll low income families in the SNAP program and increase their infrastructure with the purchase of a refrigerated van.

Additional support through food donations and volunteer support will also be recognized.

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation provide donations of both food and funds to Feeding America and its nationwide member network of 200 food banks, including the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.

These grants align with Walmart’s commitment to create a more sustainable food system, including a goal of providing four billion meals to those in need in the US over the next five years.

With food insecurity remaining high throughout the country, the ability to distribute more food is critical for food banks.

According to the USDA, about 49 million people, including 16 million children, in the United States are food insecure, which means at some point during the year, they won’t know where their next meal will come from.

In Santa Barbara County, one out of four people receive some level of services from the Foodbank.

“These funds are significant in the effort to build a food secure community, reaching youth, families and the community at large,” said Erik Talkin, CEO of Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. “The Foodbank acknowledges the Walmart Foundation for their recognition and support of these critical programs.”

The money awarded to Foodbank will go a long way in helping to fund 2016 programs, including expanding the organization’s food literacy programs, distributing produce to local families in need and ensuring that the community has access to a reliable source of produce year-round.

The event will be held at the Foodbank’s Santa Maria Warehouse, and it will also highlight the newly purchased Grocery Rescue van.

Foodbank of Santa Barbara County aims to  transform health by eliminating hunger and food insecurity through good nutrition and food literacy.


Cynder Sinclair: Jump Start Your 2016 Fundraising With ‘Why’

Yikes, it’s a new year! Do you have a solid plan to ensure fundraising success for your nonprofit? Will it be more of the same or will you try new strategies?

Now is the prime time to take a hard look at your plan, create a clear focus, and get everyone re-engaged.

But first consider the secret ingredient: Why?

Achieving fundraising gold depends on creating and executing a good plan. Sure.

But before you even get started on your plan, check out the marketing guru, Simon Sinek. Read his blockbuster book, Start with Why. You can also hear him on TedTalks.

It All Starts with Why

Sinek’s message perfectly suits nonprofits. He points out that when describing our mission, we typically talk about what we do and how we do it.

We collect and distribute food, or we educate youth about the dangers of substance abuse, or we provide health care or concerts or art exhibits. That’s what we do.

And then we elaborate on how we do it. But we rarely highlight why we do our work. Some think the why should be obvious. But usually it’s not so clear.

Sinek says the why is the most important element and, yet, the most difficult to convey. He cautions that donors don’t give to your organization because of what you do or how you do it; they give because of why you do it.

Your purpose is what connects people emotionally to your cause. That’s what you are after.

Identifying the why for your organization is hard work, but critical to attracting supporters.

Try asking this question at your next board meeting: Why do we do our work?

Drill down deeper by continuing to ask why after each answer. It will stimulate lively discussion that may lead to nuggets for your fundraising message.

I guarantee that finding your why will electrify your board, your supporters, and you staff with newfound energy.

Don’t Look in the Obvious Places for Why

Some of the most well-known companies succeeded because they identified and promoted their why. You might be surprised at their conclusions.

Take Apple. They make great, beautifully designed computers. But that’s not their why. That’s not the reason they started their company.

“Challenging the status quo by thinking differently.” That’s their why. That has inspired customers for years.

What about Southwest Airlines. They are reliable, inexpensive, and get you where you want to go. But their why is “freedom.”

The message of freedom continues to entice customers, making Southwest the most successful airline in history.

Starbuck’s’ why is “your third place.” Not the best coffee; certainly not the quickest. They created success around your experience in their stores.

The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County has done a good job of finding and promoting their why. “Moving the community from hunger into health.”

This powerful message attracts more supporters every day.

In the first weeks of this New Year, I challenge you to find your organization’s why. It’s hard work; but well worth the effort. Once you identify your why, use these three tips to jump start this year’s fundraising.

A New Year Calls for a New Commitment

The start of a new year is the perfect time to re-energize your board members.

Ask a client or staff member to make a short, heart-felt presentation at the beginning of your next board meeting. The board chair then asks board members to tell why they are involved with the organization.

Once everyone is emotionally re-engaged with the mission, the development committee chair reminds everyone of the board fundraising goal, reports on progress, and then invites a few individual (pre-invited) board members to share a success story.

The chair then reminds everyone that the staff and development committee are eager to support them in any possible way.

This will help board members feel the mission, understand their role in making it possible, and recommit to their fundraising goal.

Successful Fundraising is Always a Team Sport

Successful fundraising isn’t a solo activity; it takes good teamwork.

The best team is comprised of the board chair, the development chair, the executive director, and the development director.

This highly engaged team works closely together to guide and inspire the development committee and the board to raise funds.

Working individually with each board member is critical to reaching fundraising goals.

Read this article for a sample fundraising plan individualized for each board member.

Fundraising expert, Joan Garry, suggests giving board members a card to carry in their wallet with a list of programs and ways of giving.

Plan your Work and Work your Plan

Does your organization have a clear fundraising plan? Are board and staff members actively engaged in donor identification and cultivation? How about stewardship?

The start of a new year is a great time to reevaluate your fundraising road map. Be sure each person (staff and board) knows exactly what their goal is, what their role is, and who their target audience is.

Some people are best at identifying potential donors, others are great at deepening bonds with existing donors, and others shine at stewarding relationships with long-time benefactors.

Use each person at their point of strength. Having a clear plan, a strong team and re-energized commitment will ensure your organization’s fundraising success in the New Year.

And remember . . . start by identifying your why.


Group Which Helps Feed Hungry In Santa Barbara County Gets Major Grant

A non-profit group which helps feed some 146,000 people in need annually in Santa Barbara County is getting its own helping hand.

Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is receiving more than $150,000 from the Walmart Foundation.

The grants are to support Foodbank’s nutrition education programs, to help efforts in distributing produce, and to buy a refrigerated van.

Working with more than 300 non-profit partners, Foodbank distributed nearly 10 million pounds of food last year in Santa Barbara County.


Westmont Students Research West Side Food Quality

Carly Richardson, Kaitlynn Durham and Hailey Harper present their findings to community members of the Westside Impact Group and Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.Click to view larger

Carly Richardson, Kaitlynn Durham and Hailey Harper present their findings to community members of the Westside Impact Group and Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. (Westmont photo)

Three Westmont College students have presented their research about the availability and quality of food in the West Side of Santa Barbara to more than two dozen community members of the Westside Impact Group and Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.

Kaitlynn Durham, Hailey Harper and Carly Richardson — students in Food Systems and Global Health, a course taught by Director of Global Education Cynthia Toms — visited pantry distribution sites and areas where community members congregated.

The findings, the second of a two-year study, were the culmination of a community-based research project between Toms’ Food Systems class and the Foodbank.

Last year, three Westmont students participated in a similar community research project examining food access within the West Side and comparing grocery stores.

“We recognize that the students’ research is just a starting point for community collaboration,” Toms says. “We hope future Westmont students will conduct further research to help local organizations better address food and resource access on the West Side.”

The findings confirmed that the area does not qualify as a food desert according to the standards of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Participants receiving free food distribution were satisfied with food availability and quality, but many would like to see more fresh fruits and vegetables as well as other health and nutritional education in the local community.

“When we asked what types of food people didn’t want or need, everyone started by expressing gratitude and were hesitant to say anything negative,” Richardson said. “We noticed a trend of people saying that if they didn’t need something or couldn’t eat it due to dietary restrictions, they gave it to someone else, a neighbor or a friend. It seemed the food was being consumed.”

Along with interviewing participants, the students gathered data from 21 community organizations in Santa Barbara, 11 of them completing surveys.

“After looking at the data, we found the West Side does not offer food delivery programs for seniors nor are there many childcare opportunities for younger parents,” Harper says. “One suggestion was to hold food distribution on school campuses, especially for parents. Getting to a food distribution site and having to take care of kids can be complicated.”

“We want to encourage a focus on fresh produce,” Durham says. “People relying on distributions as a main source of food have a higher risk of hypertension and diabetes.”

Of families who use food pantries nationwide 58 percent include someone with hypertension, and more than 30 percent have a member with diabetes, according to Feeding America.

Because canned foods are more typically high sodium, fresh fruit and vegetables are a healthier alternative

“We encourage the possibility of getting involved with local restaurants or grocery stores to give their excess food,” Durham said. “I know there may be legal issues with that, but there are ways to make it possible.”

In fact, City Harvest in New York collects 55 million pounds of excess food each year from restaurants, grocers and farms, delivering it to 500 community food programs across New York City (source:

Following this research, the Foodbank and the Westside Impact Group have decided to host a town hall meeting in January 2016 to share results and seek input on possible next steps toward food security for the most vulnerable in the West Side community.


A Helping Hand

It’s that time of year again! Every November sshutterstock_49900468ince 2009, Yardi has proudly participated in the Santa Barbara Foodbank’s annual Corporate Food & Funds Drive Challenge. By promoting friendly competition among local business, the corporate challenge is a chance to give back and support those in need during this holiday season and beyond.

Every day, thousands of people turn to the Santa Barbara Foodbank for assistance. With a commitment to supplying nutritious foods that promote a healthy lifestyle, the Santa Barbara food bank helps one in four local residents keep their larders full and their tables set not just during the holidays, but throughout the year. Though the Foodbank receives a steady flow of donations year-round, events like the Corporate Food & Funds Drive Challenge guarantees the organization receives sufficient funds and resources to operate regardless of the season.

Yardi has participated in the Corporate Food & Funds Drive Challenge from the beginning, and being part of this annual competition aligns with the company’s overall philosophy of giving back to the community. As part of the competition, over the next two months Yardi employees will work hard donating food, funds and volunteer hours in a bid to earn points that will be tallied against the efforts of the other challenge participants. Once the contest is completed, the Foodbank will use an employee-to-point ratio to crown the winner.

Last year, the challenge collectively brought in over 24,000 pounds of food (including 266 turkeys), over 400 hours of service, and more than $47,000 in donations! Though Brown and Brown Insurance may have nabbed the title in the past, this time around, the Yardi team is ready to snag that top spot.

“The competitive spirit is alive and well,” says event organizer Kelly Johnson, “and I think we’re all hoping to surpass last year’s efforts!”

For over 30 years, the Foodbank has provided millions of pounds of nutritious food along with education and other resources through its own programs and cooperative efforts with a network of almost 300 non-profit agencies in Santa Barbara Country.

With 25% of Santa Barbarians turning to the food bank for sustenance, it’s clear many neighbors, friends and family depend on this crucial service.

As we celebrate with our loved ones this holiday season, it’s important to remember that we have the ability to assist those who are struggling with life’s challenges in ways large and small. In addition to the Corporate Food & Funds Drive Challenge, there are many opportunities to support the Foodbank, including individual Food & Funds Drives, donating non-perishable food and participating in a virtual food drive online.

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 aid 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


Expand giving to all season

The data-crunching website WalletHub has compiled a list of the best and worst cities in America when it comes the number of people in need.

To no one’s surprise, the neediest populations are in places like Detroit, New Orleans and Brownsville, Texas.

Also not surprising is that five of the 10 cities with the smallest population of needy people are here in California.

No Santa Barbara County city is on the list, which is both good and bad. What it means is that, while there is affluence in abundance, there also is poverty — a problem the folks at the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County struggle with every day, not just the Christmas holiday season.

Foodbank is involved in a school lunch program that feeds thousands of kids from lower-income families each school day. It is estimated that only a fraction of the students who receive school lunches have access to nutritious lunches during the summer break. Thus, the organization runs the summer Picnic in the Park.

Nearly three-quarters of county households needing food assistance must make a choice between buying food or paying for other necessities, among them transportation, utility and medical bills.

There’s a fair chance those of you reading this editorial don’t have to make such difficult choices. But just imagine yourself in a situation in which you had to choose between food and paying bills. Try to imagine persistent hunger for a working head of a household, who makes decisions about whether to buy food or pay the rent.

It can be difficult to imagine such choices this time of year, but even harder when you have to make them with a stomach growling from lack of food.

The Foodbank and the 300-plus charitable agencies it supplies with food help an average of about 140,000 Santa Barbara County residents each year — or more than 25 percent of the county’s total population. Nearly 50,000 of those served are children 17 years and younger. More than 21,000 are seniors 60 years or older. About 17 percent of the total are military veterans, many of whom have served in wartime. These are shameful numbers, and we need to join forces to do something about it.

Last year the Foodbank distributed about 9.4 million pounds of food, with more than half of it fresh produce. An army of 600 volunteers chipped in more than 20,000 hours of time and service, the only way the good done by the Foodbank can be accomplished.

Most any kind of healthy food is a prime candidate for donation. Whole grains, vegetarian fare, fruits and vegetables, and animal protein-rich foods are optimal.

The agency had its usual holiday food drive, starting before Thanksgiving, but hunger is not a seasonal phenomenon. It’s a constant in our communities.

Donated food is good, but cash donations can be better. Foodbank’s pros can convert a donated dollar into about $7 worth of food, thanks to advantages afforded by buying in bulk.

Food and cash donations can be taken to the Foodbank’s Santa Maria warehouse at 490 W. Foster Road, weekdays from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. A list of acceptable food donations is available online at:

This is a situation in which the entire community plays a critically important part. Together, those of us who can afford to donate food or cash can help ease what has become a serious problem for so many Americans and their families — even in reasonably affluent communities like our own.

Giving is easy, and the reward is beyond measure.