Supporters of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County gathered at The Lark restaurant last Wednesday, September 13, for the 5th annual Pre-Event for the Table of Life Gala to be held next month.
The Foodbank works with more than 300 nonprofit partners to distribute food and provide nutrition education. Last year, it distributed 9.7 million pounds of food, half of which was fresh produce. It serves an astonishing one in four people in the county.
The Table of Life Gala fundraiser, to be held October 8 at the Montecito estate of Stephanie and Jim Sokolove, will feature food by Chef Michael Hutchings and Christine Dahl and entertainment by the Doublewide Kings. Palmer Jackson Jr. will host, Dr. Fred Kass will speak, and Maryan Schall and Deckers Brands will be honored.
At the pre-event, guests mingled in The Lark’s private dining room while enjoying hors d’oeuvres and wine. A cooking demonstration by The Lark’s executive sous chef Taylor Melonuk followed and then guests were seated for a brief but very interesting presentation by CEO Erik Talkin.
He shared how of 58 counties in California, Santa Barbara county ranks as the 47th worst in terms of food insecurity. He emphasized how money spent here on providing healthy food and nutritional education is a wise investment. He noted that malnutrition is a key determinant with many types of cancer. More generally, ensuring that children have a nutritious diet and that they understand the importance of such a diet will change their lives forever.
Talkin also explained how a few years ago, the Foodbank shifted its approach from being a Band-Aid to wanting to be a cure. Among the changes it instituted were stopping the distribution of candy and soda and making fresh produce over 50% of what it distributes. It undertook a countywide analysis that identified both underserved areas and areas where there was duplication of services, and has developed many significant, innovative programs.