Midday Sunday proved to be a magical time for a creative fundraiser for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. More than 150 guests gathered at Pacifica Graduate Institute, located at the historic Fleischmann estate in Carpinteria, for the second annual Table of Life Gala.
The entirely outdoor event featured early refreshments and wine in Pacifica’s organic gardens, a wonderful boxed luncheon by Rincon Catering served under umbrellas on the upper lawn, and live music by the Alex Marshall Band. Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree served as honorary event chairwoman, assisted by honorary and host committees.
The gala worked hard to go "green." The gourmet lunches were served in biodegradable paper boxes, plus real silverware and colorful cloth napkins that could be cleaned and used again. Rincon Catering did an excellent job of utilizing local seasonal vegetables in the yummy lunch, including kale, greens and squash, plus healthy couscous, pears and chicken. Even some delicate pear slices were included that matched the event program cover art titled “Spiritual Pears” by artist Anne Luther.
Major sponsors included Susan Dempster (who created the event’s theme and design), the Hutton Parker Foundation, Connie and John Pearcy, Ridley-Tree, SAGE Publications, the Orfalea Foundation and Citrix. Other supporters included Montecito Bank & Trust, Cottage Health System, Fredric and Lundy Reynolds, Richard and Maryan Schall, Denny and Bitsy Bacon, the Santa Barbara Foundation, Venoco Inc., Bob and Val Montgomery, and many more.
Proceeds benefited the Foodbank’s Feed the Future programs, a sequential series of innovative programs that foster nutritional health and independence in children of all ages. These programs have been nationally recognized for their approached to making long-term change in their lives of recipients.
Guests learned more about the Foodbank’s vision for a nutritionally healthy Santa Barbara from event chairwoman Ridley-Tree.
“The recession is not over for those not at the top," she said. "There is a chronic shortage of food for the less fortunate. This contributes to disease and the ability for young people to learn at school.”
Chief Executive Officer Erik Talkin reported that the Foodbank’s healthy school and nutrition education program has increased from nine to 16 schools. The Foodbank of today is much different than it was when it was founded 30 years ago. Half of the 8.5 million meals it provided last year was fresh produce. It is now not only providing nutritious foods, but has transformed the traditional food bank model to solve the underlying causes of hunger.
The Table of Life Gala symbolizes Foodbank’s approach to transforming health through teaching an appreciation of fresh, nutritious food, getting families "back to the table," eating local, cooking together and returning to health.
Food images and displays were cleverly woven throughout the gala — carefully thought out by sponsor and event committee Dempster. The host committee also included Ann Daniel, Karen Heimberg, Brigitte Guehr, Anne Luther, Michelle Madril, Tom and Eileeen Mielko, Janelle Parsons, Phyllis de Picciotto and Nina Terzian.
Auction items included a luxurious getaway at Villa Encanto, a necklace from Silverhorn, a stay at the Chumash Casino & Resort, two nights at the Bacara Resort & Spa, a case of Bella Cavalli wine and more. To wind up the pleasant afternoon, each guest was given several lettuce seedlings donated by Hollandia, so that everyone could help to "feed the future."
For more information about the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, click here or call 805.967.5741.