Monthly Archives: February 2016

Empty Bowls fundraiser in Lompoc set to return March 23, 2016

**2017 SAVE THE DATE: 13th Annual Lompoc Empty Bowls, March 22, 2017.***

The 12th annual Lompoc Empty Bowls fundraiser, which will benefit local programs managed by the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, is slated to return to the Dick DeWees Community and Senior Center on March 23.

The popular event is planned for 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the main ballroom at the DeWees Center, which is located at 1120 W. Ocean Ave.

Tickets at $25 per person can be purchased online at, which also has information on other community programs.

The Empty Bowls event raises funds to help the Foodbank address hunger and malnutrition in the Lompoc Valley.

Attendees will be able to select a handcrafted ceramic bowl, enjoy a simple meal of gourmet soup and bread and bid on a host of items in a silent auction.

At the end of the event, guests will take their bowls home as a reminder of the meal’s purpose: to provide wholesome and hearty food for the hungry and to raise awareness about hunger in the Lompoc region.

This year continues the tradition of a Bowl Repurpose program.

Attendees of past events can participate in the program through mid-March by bringing their bowls from previous fundraisers to two locations: Rabobank at 828 North H St. during business hours; and the Lompoc Museum at 200 South H St. between 1 and 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 1 to 4 p.m. on weekends.

All funds raised at the Lompoc Empty Bowls will remain in Lompoc, where they will be used to provide services to Lompoc-area families, according to organizers.

Among those services are local food distribution programs run by various local nonprofit and faith-based organizations, as well as such Foodbank-operated programs as the Senior Brown Bag, Kids Farmers Market and the Healthy School Pantry programs.

From July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015, in partnership with 34 food distribution programs, the Foodbank reported it distributed nearly 1.06 million pounds of food to 17,319 individuals in the Lompoc Valley.

For more information about Empty Bowls, event sponsorship opportunities or the Foodbank and its programs in general, call Judi Monte at 937-3422, ext. 106.


Hancock College distributing free food to students every month

With more than 10.5 million students attending community colleges across the U.S., more than half describe themselves as having food insecurities, according to a recent University of Wisconsin study.

In an effort to prevent this hunger and promote healthy eating, Hancock College has partnered with the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County to hand out free food to all students every first Tuesday and Thursday of the month.

“Food Share Because We Care,” led by student ambassadors, Associated Student Body Government members and college staff, was held for the second time during the first week of February and yielded a significant — and diverse — turnout.

“It’s a form of support that’s important to the students,” said student ambassador Daniel Hernandez. “Not all students are able to afford food, and struggle, so this is a good resource to help them get through the semester.”

Students stocked up on fruits, vegetables and nonperishable goods. Activities coordinator Stephanie Robb said it is crucial to select foods fit for students in a wide variety of situations, including those who may not have the tools necessary to cook.

“They already have so much to worry about; we don’t want them to have to worry about food, too,” she said, pointing to the lines of cans and cereal boxes being passed out.

Nutrition also plays a large role, and staff pay particular attention to items’ labels before choosing what to distribute. Food science instructor Christine Bisson has created recipe handouts to illustrate how the ingredients provided can be used to make nourishing, tasty meals.

Among the positive feedback following the event, many students commented on how difficult it is to be fully engaged in their studies without food-provided energy, and commended the college for their contributions.

“A lot of students need proper nutrition to stay on top of their studies, and not all of them can easily acquire it,” said auto body student Cristian Rodriguez. “If your body isn’t physically ready to learn, what’s the point of even going to school?”


Teens Learn Ingredients For a Healthy Life Through Santa Barbara Culinary Program

Popular free class lasts 16 weeks and teaches high school students how to cook for themselves — and more

Chef Ryan Silliman of Birnam Wood Golf Club in Montecito teaches a class of about 25 teenagers how to cook during the free Chef Apprentice program hosted by the Santa Barbara Parks & Recreation Department.

Chef Ryan Silliman of Birnam Wood Golf Club in Montecito teaches a class of about 25 teenagers how to cook during the free Chef Apprentice program hosted by the Santa Barbara Parks & Recreation Department. Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo

Most of the two dozen high school students arrived early to their weekly cooking class held after school on Mondays at the Franklin Neighborhood Center on Santa Barbara’s Lower Eastside.

They aproned up, washed their hands, sterilized cutting board work space, pulled long hair back into braids and tamed flyaways with baseball caps as pseudo hairnets.

The name tags they donned said Chef Apprentice, which is the new name for what was formerly called the Teen Culinary Arts program offered free through the Santa Barbara Parks & Recreation Department.

The popular program is still free and offered mostly to local high school juniors and seniors who are hoping to learn more about cooking and nutrition.

In its seventh year, more than 175 students have signed up for the 16-week course that could help them get a summer job in the food industry or simply prepare them for life after high school.

“For Christmas and Thanksgiving, I don’t like to do the same thing,” parks department employee and cooking teacher Anita Dominocielo-Ho said to students during a recent lesson.

Dominocielo-Ho, who coordinates the program, was teaching students how to make stuffed shells and quinoa salad. She was joined by Ryan Silliman, chef at Montecito’s Birnam Wood Golf Club.

Local teens learn about cooking through a free after-school program held at the Franklin Neighborhood Center. Click to view larger

Local teens learn about cooking through a free after-school program held at the Franklin Neighborhood Center. Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo


For the past five years, Silliman has offered students tips for healthier eating and how to tweak recipes to their liking.

Last week it was pizza; Next week, carrot cake.

Cooking comes naturally to Alberto Gil, a Santa Barbara High School sophomore in his second year as a chef apprentice.

As one of the more experienced cooks, he finely chopped sausage to go into the shells and mixed the recipe by hand — reminiscent of the cooking he’s done with his family since he was young.

Gil was assisted by a handful of dedicated program volunteers, including retired city planner Bettie Weiss, who coordinate ingredients and cooking utensils.

They also ensure that students get a pre-cooking snack of fruit and yogurt or post-completion fruit to take home along with meals — all provided through donations from the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, the Adelle Davis Foundation, the Bragg Health Institute and others.

Anita Dominocielo-Ho of the Santa Barbara Parks & Recreation Department, center, and chef Ryan Silliman of Birnam Wood Golf Club dole out cooking tips during the city’s free Chef Apprentice program. Click to view larger

Anita Dominocielo-Ho of the Santa Barbara Parks & Recreation Department, center, and chef Ryan Silliman of Birnam Wood Golf Club dole out cooking tips during the city’s free Chef Apprentice program. Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo


Cooking is more than a hobby for some, including Victor Muro, who graduated from Santa Barbara High in 2014 and is in his third year as a chef apprentice. His very first class had just 15 students.

Muro is more of a mentor these days as a Santa Barbara City College student. Since he’s studying to become a professional chef, he wears a white chef jacket instead.

“It’s really awesome,” he said. “At the beginning, it’s a little bit awkward (for students).

“But by the end of the program, it’s like a little family.”

Enrollment into the Chef Apprentice program is limited and requires an application.

Students have the choice of meeting at one of two locations — from 3:45 to 6:30 p.m. Mondays at the Franklin Neighborhood Center, 1136 E. Montecito St., or from 4:15 to 7 p.m. at the Westside Neighborhood Center, 423 W. Victoria St.


Wal-Mart Foundation shows support for Foodbank of Santa Barbara County

Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino, representatives of Foodbank of Santa Barbara County’s board of directors and members of Wal-Mart’s local and corporate management gathered Wednesday at the Foodbank’s Santa Maria warehouse to celebrate the funding support of the Wal-Mart Foundation.

“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 Wal-Mart Foundation for their recognition and support of these critical programs.”

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 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and to purchase a refrigerated van.

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

One in four people in the county receive some level of services from the Foodbank.

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


Foodbank of Santa Barbara County Donor Celebration

Event honors growers, companies for annual donations

ORCUTT, Calif. – The Far Western Tavern in Old Town Orcutt hosted a special event Wednesday night where local farmers, growers and companies were honored for their annual donations to the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.

“It’s a very exciting event for us, once a year we get together all of our food donors who provide a lot of donated food, fresh produce to the Foodbank“, says Foodbank of Santa Barbara County CEO Erik Talkin, “we have some huge companies that provide millions of pounds, we have some smaller growers as well, in this room behind me about half of the entire food that we get for the Foodbank, about four and a half million pounds, these people are responsible for it, so we’re extremely grateful to them and I’m sure the people of Santa Barbara County are too.”

Local growers like Innovative Produce were among those recognized for their generosity and commitment to the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.

“Our family is actively involved in the Foodbank because we just think its important to give back to the community”, George Adam says, “we try to help people when they are really in need and that’s what helps the lowest in our society, it helps build our community and we can fight a lot of the social problems that we are facing these days.”

Adam says donating to the Foodbank has evolved over the years and become easier and more efficient for local growers, farmers and businesses.

“We’re able to make co-harvesting efficient so it all makes sense, we get a lot more pounds for people that need it”, Adam says, “I think over time there have been a lot of people, a lot of other businesses, that have donated a lot of product and its all part of the community that we’ve always seen with all of the farming families here in Santa Maria.”

Talkin says despite an improving economy and job growth locally, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is still serving one in four people in the county.

“There’s a lot of what is called food insecurity which means people have jobs but towards the end of the month they run out of money for really healthy food so they are buying very poor quality food and they get sick and people are able to work less so its kind of like a vicious cycle“, Talkin says, “so the Foodbank is very involved in trying to teach people how to be healthy with eating good food, that doesn’t cost much money, that’s really a big focus for us and there is a lot of need out there.”

Talkin says “Turning Hunger Into Health” is more than just a slogan for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County

“We believe it can be disempowering for people to stand in a line to get food”, Talkin says, “our focus really is to say, let’s talk together about how we can be healthy as a community, let’s teach you about cooking, let’s give you some food to cook with, and then it changes the conversation, its not about us as the givers and they as the takers, but it’s a joint conversation that we all have.”

“People are really understanding that people need healthy food, its not just a question of giving some empty calories to someone and you might cause them to develop diabetes or something like that“, Talkin says, “people need fresh produce, they need to know how to use it and here we are in Santa Barbara County, we’re in the top one percent of agriculture-producing counties, so if we can’t make it work here, where can we?”

Talkin encourages people to learn more about the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County and its various programs.

“Being healthy with food and moving from hunger into health is something that we can all get involved with”, Talkin says, “its not just a question of donating food or donating money its also about getting involved in a whole range of programs that we run, teaching programs for kids, for adults, about how to cook, how to adapt yourself for food, so it’s a great way for everybody in the community to get involved.”