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Foodbank Pre-Event Fundraiser Serves as Appetizer for ‘Table of Life’ Gala

An intimate group of sponsors, board members and guests share a meal around communal tables at The Lark

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An intimate group of sponsors, board members and guests joined together at the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County's Table of Life pre-event fundraiser held at the ever-popular The Lark restaurant in the Funk Zone benefiting the Foodbank’s "Feed the Future" programs.

“This event today is in preparation for our Table of Life gala, a celebration of the partnership between farmers and the Foodbank — agrobusiness and ways to sustain our underserved families,” Table of Life co-chair Marybeth Carty said.

The Feed the Future programs are a series of innovative initiatives that foster nutritional health and independence in children of all ages.

The Pullman Room at The Lark with its communal tables was the perfect setting for the small gathering sponsored by Vita Travel Store, formally known as Pacific Travel, at 12 W. Anapamu St., which opened its flagship store in July, offering travel accessories, clothing and state-of-the-art online trip planning.

“It’s really an honor to be part of the community where we all sit down together,” said Erik Talkin, Foodbank chief executive officer. “This is really what the Foodbank is all about. Having good food to eat and giving each other tips about good cooking and other things. It’s so important.”

Corporate sponsor Driscoll’s Berries was part of the benefit and will also be an honoree at the signature Table of Life event to be held Oct. 5. Fellow Table of Life honorees Chuck and Missy Sheldon were unable to attend the pre-event but received a heartfelt thank you for donating up to 40,000 pounds of tangerines each winter from their orchard ranch in Goleta to support the Foodbank’s Backyard Bounty program.  

Guests enjoyed a variety of scrumptious appetizers and fresh salad, and excluding some roasted duck, all of the fresh produce served at the event were items offered by the Foodbank and prepared on this evening by The Lark executive chef Jason Paluska and executive sous/pastry chef Nick Flores.

“The connection is we gave The Lark chefs our inventory list, and they went and got the food from our warehouse and created this wonderful opportunity for us to see the quality of food that we provide to over 300 charities across the county,” said Matthew Neal, director of strategic giving for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.

During a brief introductory speech, Talkin emphasized the importance of the community coming together to support the Foodbank, a primarily volunteer-based organization that provides the food and distributes it to thousands of local residents around the western United States.

“This is a unique nonprofit that works together as a community — the people in this room are growers, knowledgeable philanthropists, board members, volunteers and social investors, socially conscious children,” Talkin said. “People who want to make the community better and are really working effectively to do it.”

Talkin said that over the years the organization has seen a huge growth in its wider mission and ideology of nutrition and how good food can make people healthier and help them get a leg up in this world.

“We work with local nonprofits trying to grow their capacity,” Talkin said. “We provide training and education we are tying to cajole, be gentle and move them forward so that we can all be focused on succeeding in the mission together.”

He went on to say that the Foodbank is working with the community to create a food literate generation of Santa Barbarians.

“If you are illiterate, you go through life with one hand tied behind your back. Well, if you are food illiterate it’s the exact same thing — you are at the mercy of processed foods and you eat at fast food chains, which makes you unhealthy and unable to work. It’s a vicious cycle," he said. “We are about providing good food and leveraging that food by giving people the education and skills to build their food literacy. It is an amazing change from focusing on hunger to focusing on health.”

Click here for more information about the Foodbank and ways to help.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz

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