- Food Action Plan - Listening Sessions March 17 and 18 in Santa Maria, Santa Barbara and Solvang
- SBCAG bike and pedestrian plan - seeking input March 17 and 25
1. Food Action Plan - Listening Sessions March 17 and 18 in Santa Maria, Santa Barbara and Solvang
Santa Barbara County has rich agricultural land that produces over one million metric tons of fruits and vegetables each year and yet struggles to provide adequate access to affordable and nutritious food through the county. “In spite of all the healthy food grown in our county, one in four children struggles with hunger,” said Erik Talkin, executive director of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.
Recognizing the impact of the inefficient county food system, the Community Environmental Council and the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County came together to begin developing a better system. They approached the Santa Barbara Foundationwith a proposal: to develop a healthy, accessible, sustainable local food action plan that will serve Santa Barbara County now and in the future. The Orfalea Foundation was also invited to round out the four organization partnership.
Representatives from the four organizations spent a year reviewing comparable efforts to improve food systems by other communities including Oakland, Sonoma, San Diego and Vancouver. They also conducted numerous conversations with potential stakeholders in our region. The data and input gathered confirmed that a food action plan was desired and viable in Santa Barbara County.
“The plan would address every aspect of the food system including production, processing, distribution, access, consumption and waste management,” said Sharyn Main, senior community investment officer for the Santa Barbara Foundation. “The result is a food system that supports healthy people, a healthy economy and a healthy environment.”
To develop a successful plan and ensure a robust, creative process required convening a wide-ranging group of community members representing every part of the food system. After months of outreach, 30 individuals were invited to participate on the Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan Advisory Board. The first meeting was held at the Santa Barbara Foundation office on Wednesday, January 21, 2015 and all in attendance fostered enthusiastic conversation about the broad range of food system challenges.
“Food is medicine and Santa Barbara County has rich agricultural land that produces more than our share of fruits and vegetables,” said Erik. “Unfortunately food insecurity and hunger exist in all areas of our county.” Concerns related to food access, local hunger and health were voiced by nearly every advisory board member at the table.
There was also a sweeping acknowledgement of the negative impact the current food system is having on the environment. “Food systems affect climate change and climate significantly impacts food security,” said Sigrid Wright, assistant director of the Community Environmental Council.
As part of the food action plan development, the advisory board will listen to concerns from the community and facilitate dialogue among local stakeholders and organizations. This collaborative approach will yield opportunities for shared investment as well as a network of professionals to guide the implementation of the plan.
“A food action plan that encourages ongoing convening and learning will assist local government agencies whose policies influence the food system to work together more harmoniously,” said Ron Gallo, president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation. “It is critical that we give voice to the concerns of stakeholders and provide public forums for the discussion of key food system issues. Working together we can build cooperative relationships between government, nonprofit and private sector organizations that will create a healthier food system for all.”
The food action plan aligns with the Santa Barbara Foundation’s LEAF Initiative – a four pillar initiative focusing on landscape preservation, ecosystem sustainability, agriculture vitality and food system improvement.
“All of these environmental issues are inextricably linked to one another. A solution advanced in one area will also benefit the other three,” said Sharyn. “The LEAF Initiative positions the Santa Barbara Foundation to build social, human and intellectual capital surrounding these actionable issues. Together we can create real and lasting change through community partnerships and targeted investment of resources.”
The Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan will host three listening sessions on March 17 and 18. The sessions are an opportunity for the community to engage in the development of the Food Action Plan. For more information, download the informational flier or email [email protected].
2. SBCAG bike and pedestrian plan - seeking input March 17 and 25
TUESDAY, MARCH 17, 2015 - 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors’ Hearing Room
511 East Lakeside Parkway, Santa Maria, CA
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25, 2015 - 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Casa Nueva, SBCAG, Wisteria Conference Room
260 N. San Antonio Road
We need your input on a bike plan that stitches together all of the local jurisdiction’s Bike Plans that helps create seamless bicycle connectivity between communities, and a Regional vision for cycling in Santa Barbara County. It will also insure that all communities in SB County are eligible for State and Federal bicycle infrastructure funding.
Comments can also be sent to [email protected].
For more info contact Michael Becker at:
Senior Transportation Planner
Santa Barbara County Association of Governments
p: 805.961.8912 │ e: [email protected]
Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.
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SB CAN Executive Director