The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County will hold its fifth annual Agricultural Appreciation BBQ from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at 490 W. Foster Road in Santa Maria with special guest speaker Dr. Ann McDermott to celebrate and thank the agricultural industry for their support of the Foodbank.

McDermott arrived at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2007 to initiate and develop Cal Poly’s new universitywide, multidisciplinary translational research center, specializing in the study of obesity.

Previously known as Cal Poly’s Emerging Center for Obesity Prevention and Education, COPE changed its name in 2009 to STRIDE (Science through Translational Research In Diet and Exercise), a title that more accurately describes the program’s purpose.

“This is exactly what the Foodbank’s mission is beyond feeding the hungry of Santa Barbara County,” Executive Director Erik Talkin said “We want to give the children, seniors and the many working families nutritious foods so they can live healthy lives.”

Last year, the Foodbank distributed 9 million pounds of food, including 3 million pounds of produce of which 900,000 was donated by the farmers of Santa Barbara County. This spring, the Foodbank is also celebrating the third anniversary of its Produce Initiative. The Foodbank launched the initiative to accept and distribute millions of additional pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables to those who need it most.

“We are very grateful for Dr. McDermott’s visit to help us celebrate the wonderful generosity of our farmers and ranchers,” Talkin said. “She understands food banking and the vital role the agricultural community plays in the amount of produce we can distribute that will help us fight this growing problem.”

McDermott serves as STRIDE director and is an associate professor in the Cal Poly Kinesiology Department. The primary mission of STRIDE is to support agencies in the Central Coast in promoting healthy weight across the lifespan.

— Kerry Aller is the community relations manager for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.