On Saturday, October 8, more than 200 supporters of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County celebrated in style at the fifth annual Table of Life Gala held at Jim and Stephanie Sokolove’s picturesque Montecito estate. In the process, they raised more than $250,000.
Guests gathered in the late afternoon on the terraces and poolside to mingle, sample tasty hors d’oeuvres, and listen to music by the Doublewide Kings. Band member Palmer Jackson Jr. then laid down his guitar, donned his emcee cap, and beckoned guests to an adjacent lawn area for the dinner and program.
Chef Michael Hutchings created gourmet versions of classic favorites for appetizers and the buffet dinner, and his wife, Christine Dahl, made the decadent desserts. Guests were reminded of the critical role of the Foodbank with a small card at each place setting bearing the sobering statistic that the Foodbank serves one in four residents in Santa Barbara County.
CEO Erik Talkin explained the innovative approach taken by the Foodbank in focusing on a long-term solution. According to Talkin, it is crucial to provide not just food but education and empowerment that will lead to a healthier diet. He outlined a new program, Healthy Neighborhoods, that teaches people to teach their peers about food literacy, including cooking, shopping, planning, and storing skills. He summarized the mission as being not a question of moving from “hunger to full bellies, but from hunger to lasting health.” The Foodbank partners with more than 300 organizations to implement many innovative programs.
Dr. Fred Kass, director of medical oncology at the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, shared his excitement for working with the Foodbank because of its focus on improving health. He noted that obesity is now the problem that most affects life expectancy, and shared the startling fact that life expectancy for the lowest income groups has not changed in the past 50 years. All of the improvements to life expectancy have come in proportion to income and by and large in proportion to access to good nutrition and health care. He lauded the Foodbank for its part in helping to prevent the next generation of patients at the Cancer Center.
The event honored longtime Foodbank supporter Maryan Schall. Talkin praised her as the “first responder” in that she is the first to give generously when the Foodbank asks for assistance and she takes an active role in fundraising. Moments after accepting her award, Schall stepped into action by leading a paddle raise that garnered $100,000 in the course of a few minutes. The event also honored Deckers Brands for the many ways its employees volunteer with the Foodbank. Caroline Powers, wife of CEO David Powers, graciously accepted the award.
With the conclusion of the program, the Doublewide Kings, joined by musician/hedge fund star Pete Muller, took to the stage and provided lively dance music.
For more information about the Foodbank or to make a donation, go to foodbanksbc.org.
By Gail Arnold