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Foodbank of Santa Barbara County’s Table of Life Gala Fights Hunger Locally

Annual benefit at Pacifica Graduate Institute sets the table for vital Feed the Future program

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The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County hosted its third annual Table of Life Gala on Sunday at Pacifica Graduate Institute’s Lambert Road campus. The 2014 event honored the agricultural community and those who play a big role in the Foodbank’s hunger to health philosophy.

The afternoon fundraiser benefited the Foodbank’s “Feed the Future” programs, a series of initiatives that foster nutritional health and independence in children of all ages. This year’s gala honored Missy and Chuck Sheldon and Driscoll’s with help of honorary event co-chairwomen Marybeth Carty and Arlene Montesano.

The Sheldons are personal and corporate supporters whose participation allows the community access to tens of thousands of tangerines yearly through Backyard Bounty, a tremendous source of the program’s growth.

Driscoll’s, longtime supporters and leading global distributors of fresh strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, are dedicated to helping the local community while working to create a healthy international workforce. With its Sembrando Salud program, Driscoll’s aims to reduce obesity and diabetes in the United States and Mexico by teaching farmers and their families how to live a healthier lifestyle through cooking, awareness and exercise.

Carty is the community partnership manager for Venoco Inc., directing the company’s charitable giving and philanthropic outreach and assisting up to 150 nonprofit organizations per year. Montesano, a fashion and restaurant industry entrepreneur, is extensively involved with several local philanthropic organizations, and has a passion for nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle.

Event committee members included Ann Daniel, Sue Dempster, Phyllis De Picciotto and Stan Roden, Brigitte Guehr, Joyce Howerton, Amanda Kramer, Cynder Sinclair, Stephanie Sokolove and Nina Terzian.

This year’s theme focused on the major role that agriculture plays on both the nutritional and financial health of Santa Barbara County. The Foodbank relies on more than 1 million pounds of donated produce locally as well as bringing in another 3 million pounds of fruits and vegetables from other counties. The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County has made fresh produce a focus, with food, education and community development programs that emphasize fruits, vegetables and good nutrition.

Now in its third year, the Foodbank’s Feed the Future program aims at teaching nutritional independence and health in children from infancy to young adulthood. Practicing good health — including the importance of incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into one’s diet — at a young age helps set a standard for lifelong nutritional decisions and advocacy.

Additionally, the Foodbank’s Backyard Bounty program invites local individuals and families to be part of the farm-to-table movement by donating excess or unwanted produce, which is then repurposed through Foodbank programs.

“The contributions of volunteers, businesses, individuals and others involved in our efforts to provide nourishment to those in need is remarkable, and deserves our thanks and recognition,” said Erik Talkin, CEO of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. “This year’s honorees are examples of how individuals and large-scale organizations can participate and help better the nutritional food cycle throughout Santa Barbara County.

“Hunger is a reality here in Santa Barbara. I met a girl sitting on a wall in Santa Barbara’s Westside. Her name was Louisa and she was 15. She described to me how the family struggles to feed her and her two younger siblings. She said ‘my hunger is a hole digging in my stomach.’”

Those helping the cause Sunday included a number of Table of Life Sponsors.

Fruit of the Earth Champion

Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree

School of Knowledge Sponsors

Armand Hammer Foundation, Tracy and Mike Tracy Bollag, Curvature, Missy and Chuck Sheldon, and Stephanie Sokolove

Feed the Future Supporters

Blue Star Parking, CKE Restaurants, Christine and Bob Emmons, Sara Miller McCune, Montecito Bank & Trust, Orfalea Foundation, Sage Publications, Anne and Michael Towbes, Venoco Inc. and Wells Fargo

Feed the Future Friends

Deanna and Jim GP Dehlsen, Susan Rose and Allan Ghitterman, Martha and Peter Karoff, Arlene Montesano, James Nigro, Susan and James Petrovich, Nina and Eric Philips, Katrina Rogers, Peter Sadowski, Maryan and Richard Schall, and Leslie and Robert Zemeckis. Other contributors included Tom Henderson, who provided artwork. and Peter MacDougall.

Stephanie Sokolove served as keynote speaker at the event. She is an acclaimed chef, restaurateur and pioneer of the “Sophisticated Comfort Food” movement.

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 more than 350 member nonprofit partners.

In Santa Barbara County, one in four people receive food support from the Foodbank — more than 104,500 unduplicated people, of whom 44 percent are children. Last year, the Foodbank distributed the food and resources to support 8.5 million meals, half of which was fresh produce.

Click here for more information about the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, or contact Diane Durst at [email protected] or 805.967.5741 x104.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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