On Wednesday, December 8, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County was the proud recipient of a $10,000 grant from the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Foundation to support expansion of the Produce Initiative.
Taking place at the Stuart C. Gildred YMCA during a newly launched Kids’ Famer’s Market Program, the grant comes at a critical time for the Foodbank where it aims to both eliminate hunger in our community, but also ensure the food distributed is of the highest quality and nutrition standards.
“The significance of this contribution cannot be understated,” said Foodbank Executive Director Erik Talkin. Adding, “We are very pleased that we were named as one of the Foundation’s grant recipients. The Foodbank’s Produce Initiative is in line with the Foundation’s passionate philosophy of building partnerships in the community and working collaboratively to make our community a better place to live and work.”
The Produce Initiative puts an emphasis on supplying fruits and vegetables to 264 local non-profits and food programs. Last year 41% or 3.8 million pounds of the food distributed by the Foodbank was fresh produce. The Foodbank always distributes produce free of charge to member agencies to encourage healthy eating. Expanding produce accessibility to children is important to the Foodbank and the newly operating Kids’ Farmer’s Market program, an extension of the Produce Initiative, successfully achieves that goal.
“Through its Foundation, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians is proud to support the Foodbank and their fresh Produce Initiative,” said Chumash Foundation Administrator Veronica Sandoval. “The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians is committed to being a key partner in our community by providing assistance and resources to help meet the needs of our community.”
The Kids’ Farmer’s Market program trains volunteers to teach kids in after school programs both nutrition education and hands-on cooking instruction. This program currently operates at 12 sites countywide, including in the Santa Ynez Valley. After the children cook and eat a healthy meal, they get to take home a bag full of fresh produce, where they can help feed and cook for the whole family. On Wednesday, the produce available at the market included: a head of lettuce, grapefruit, romaine hearts, strawberries, red potatoes, celery and sweet potatoes.
During the cooking instruction the kids were offered palmettos to sample. A key to the program’s success is getting kids to try new, healthy foods and expand their palettes. Considering the junk food/fast food culture we live in, this is a tall order, but support from foundations like the Chumash for innovative programs like the Foodbank offers is a step in the right direction.
“We believe strongly in the Produce Initiative ideology that by providing proper education about nutrition establishes a strong basis for a healthy living lifestyle now and later in life,” said Sandoval. “For the Chumash Foundation, it’s an exciting project to be a part of.”
The Foodbank of Santa Barbara is the largest hunger-relief organization in the county, operating for more than 26 years. Distributing food out of two warehouses, the Foodbank served 165,000 individuals countywide last year—an increase of more than 40,000 since 2007. The Foodbank distributes to 264 member-agencies and non-profits, which provide a range of human services in addition to food assistance.
Part of the Feeding America network of 205 food banks nationwide, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County was recently identified as one of the top 10, putting it in the top 5% of all food banks. The Foodbank has various food distributions in the Santa Ynez Valley, including: A Kids’ Farmer’s Market, Mobile Food Pantry and Brown Bag for Seniors. The Foodbank also distributes food in coordination with member agencies in the SYV including: People Helping People, Stuart C. Gildred YMCA, Solvang Friendship House, CAC Head Start, and Buellton Senior Center.
Giving back to the community has always been a tradition of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. Today, the Santa Ynez Chumash tribe continues that tradition by donating to hundreds of local groups, organizations and schools in the community.