Foodbank of Santa Barbara County CEO Erik Talkin, second from left, with major donors Paul Wieckowski, left, Frank Schipper and Don Donaldson at the third annual Fork & Cork Classic at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club. (Gail Arnold / Noozhawk photo)

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Nearly 500 supporters of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County gathered on the picturesque grounds of the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club on Sunday for the third annual Fork & Cork Classic.

All of the proceeds from the event go to the Foodbank to provide healthy food and nutrition education through its network of 300 nonprofit partners.

The Foodbank serves one in four people in Santa Barbara County. Last year it distributed 9.7 million pounds of food, half of which was fresh produce.

The dark, threatening afternoon skies did not deter the devoted Foodbank supporters. They were rewarded with dry weather until nearly the end of the event, as well as an abundance of delectable food and beverage offerings. A festive mood permeated the whole area, even when the late drizzle arrived.

Seventeen food purveyors offered their creations, including the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore with executive chef Alessandro Cartumini personally serving.

Bacara Resort & Spa executive chef Vincent Lesage also delighted patrons with offerings, as did Dario Furlati, chef/owner of Ca’ Dario Ristorante and Ca’ Dario Pizzeria and one of the event’s honorees. Toma Restaurant and Bar, Via Maestra 42, Finch & Fork, Julienne and many other fine food purveyors were also serving up tastings.

Among the myriad wineries was Beckmen Vineyards, with winemaker Steve Beckmen, one of the event’s honorees, pouring his wines. Also participating were Blair Fox Cellars, Brander Vineyard, Jaffurs Wine Cellars and many other highly regarded Santa Barbara wineries. In all, there were 28 beverage purveyors, including a few breweries and a few spirits companies.

In a brief ceremony, Foodbank CEO Erik Talkin presented awards to four individuals for their contributions to the local food movement and for their support of the Foodbank.

The honorees were Jack Motter and Jeff Kramer, farmers/owners of Ellwood Canyon Farms in Goleta, and Steve Beckmen and Dario Furlati.

The Foodbank operates throughout Santa Barbara County, with 37 percent of those served residing in Santa Barbara or Goleta. Eighty percent of the Foodbank’s clients have an income of $20,000 or less.

Talkin explained to Noozhawk how the Foodbank’s current warehouse for the South County, a converted fire station with no loading dock, is grossly inadequate and results in the Foodbank having to turn away more than 2 million pounds of food each year.

Since the Foodbank currently is not able to fully meet the nutritional needs of its clients, having to turn away more than 2 million pounds of food per year for lack of storage space is heart-wrenching. Once the Foodbank has acquired a suitable site for a new warehouse, which has been an ongoing effort, it will kick off a campaign to raise funds for the new warehouse.

Talkin also shared with Noozhawk some of the enterprising work the Foodbank has been undertaking. It has conducted a comprehensive analysis of the services provided through its 300 nonprofit partners, which revealed both underserved areas and areas with duplication of services. As a result, the Foodbank is now working with its partners to try to focus on key underserved areas including the Westside of Santa Barbara, Isla Vista, Lompoc and Los Alamos. It is also working with its partners in areas where there is duplication of services to eliminate inefficiencies.

One booth at the event featured the Foodbank’s Backyard Bounty Program, which connects farmers and backyard growers of fruits and vegetables with volunteers who pick the produce and deliver it to the Foodbank.

Alexa Senter, the Foodbank’s program manager, said the Foodbank heartily welcomes new volunteers and growers. This time of year, the volunteers are picking lemons, avocados, figs, peaches and plums. Senter asks that, if possible, growers get in touch with the Foodbank before the produce ripens to allow for proper scheduling.

The event’s Platinum Sponsors were Cox Communications, Irene Hoffman Design+Advertising and the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Foundation. Gold Sponsors were The Berry Man, BlueStar Parking, Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, Happy Linen, NightOut and Water with Life. Silver Sponsors were Arlington Financial Advisors, Courtland-Dane Management, Cultivate Events, Eric Roland Photography, Esportiko, Ella & Louie, FastSpring, Frank Schipper Construction, Green Hills Software, KEYT, Merrill Lynch Private Client Group, Noozhawk, Pumpflix, Samy’s Camera, the Santa Barbara Independent, v3 Printing and vCORE.

Click here for more information about the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, or call 805.967.5741. Click here to make an online donation.

Noozhawk contributing writer Gail Arnold can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.