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Foodbanks to Discuss Nutrition Education During Recession

Foodbank of Santa Barbara County to host this week's Western Regional Conference

The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County will play host this week to more than 30 food banks in the Western United States.

The annual Western Regional Conference is an opportunity for regional food banks, all under the Feeding America brand, to come together and discuss shared practices. But this year, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is taking the lead discussing the value food nutrition and food literacy — even in tough economic times.

While it seems like an innocent concept, among the food bank network, the idea of teaching nutrition education and food literacy in time of such great need if a source of much controversy.

Some members in the network think that in times of such great need, food banks need to focus solely on delivering as much food to as many people in need as possible. Whereas others, such as the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, think that throwing food at a problem won’t really solve anything, but will just temporarily fill bellies. This common approach to addressing hunger becomes problematic when vulnerable peoples’ bellies are filled with highly processed foods with low nutritional value.

“This is an important opportunity for key members dealing with the issues of hunger and nutrition to get together and discuss challenges, what lies ahead and common goals,” Executive Director Erik Talkin said. “We will have the chance to listen to what is working and to consider projects that would allow us to work together on a larger scale to meet the increasing needs of all food banks.”

Foundations, contributors, community leaders, member agencies, food donors and board members will travel to Santa Barbara to brainstorm and discuss leveraging relationships and how to maximize community support and the understanding of what a food bank’s role is in the community and its missions, as well as address the feasibility of moving toward a healthier food future.

Vicki Escara, president and CEO of Feeding America, will be joining the event, as well as noted nonprofit leader and teacher Jeffrey Wilcox for discussions and interactive sessions. Also, local high-tech entrepreneur John Greathouse will lead a discussion about the importance of technology in delivering an organization’s mission.

— Kerry Aller is the development and public relations manager for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.

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