Building a Resilient Food System

By Giving List Staff   |   October 29, 2021

Boasting a year-round growing calendar, Santa Barbara County is known as a food mecca, ranking in the top one percent of counties nationwide with respect to agricultural value. Diverse microclimates, temperate weather, and warm ocean waters contribute to the rich abundance our farmers, ranchers, and fisherfolk are able to harvest.

Yet, very little of this quality food makes it onto local plates. According to a 2011 white paper by UC Santa Barbara environmental studies professor Dr. David Cleveland, 99 percent of the produce grown in Santa Barbara County is exported – and 95 percent of the food consumed is imported.

This revelation prompted the Community Environmental Council and the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County – in partnership with the Santa Barbara Foundation and the Orfalea Family Foundation (which has now been sunsetted) – to create a countywide, community-driven strategic plan that assessed and provided recommendations for how we grow, distribute, consume, and dispose of food. Published in 2016, the Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan was informed by more than 200 community members who helped develop this strategy-based community “blueprint” for an accessible, thriving, sustainable, and healthy food system. 

Over the next few years, many organizations throughout Santa Barbara County implemented projects that activated Food Action Plan goals. In 2019, these relationships were formalized through the launch of the Santa Barbara County Food Action Network (SBCFAN).

SBCFAN accelerates the activation of Food Action Plan goals by connecting, aligning, and activating a network of food system changemakers – farmers, ranchers, fisherfolk, nonprofits, businesses, cooperatives, and consumers – to develop a robust local food economy, a healthy and just community, and a well-stewarded, resilient foodshed.

“Ten years after Dr. Cleveland’s study, our food system is still fragile – wildfires, flooding, and a global pandemic have unmasked further inequities and gaps,” says Executive Director Shakira Miracle. “Through its membership, SBCFAN is providing a hub for local food system information, access to resources, collaboration, and activation so that together, we can build a more resilient food system that everyone can participate in and benefit from.” 

SBCFAN’s current priorities are:

Working Groups

By convening, launching, and co-facilitating working groups, SBCFAN brings together individuals from across the food system to collaborate on projects that result in the activation of one or more Food Action Plan goals across four areas of investment. Current countywide working groups that have been launched or are in development include:

Our Food Economy

Infrastructure: establishing regional processing for seed, grain, and protein to reduce carbon footprints, create new revenue streams, and increase local food access

Our Health & Wellness

Higher Education: increasing student food access, education, and security

Nutrition: addressing equitable access to education and incorporating health data and outcomes

Our Community

Food Access Centers: deepening local impact through network support

Place-Based Food Chain and Food Sovereignty: promoting food systems by the people, for the people, featuring foods they traditionally eat

Our Foodshed

Farm and Ranch Land Preservation: protecting existing and potential land and ecosystem services they provide

Land Stewardship: increasing regional understanding of the climate, economic, and ecological benefits of soil building and regenerative management practices

Advocacy

Identifying, proposing, and advocating for policies and innovative solutions that support an equitable and resilient food system ensures that our Network can help advance economic development, social justice, and environmental sustainability. Current priorities include:

Federal Level: access to resources and locally informed legislation 

State Level: farm and ranch land preservation, affordable housing, and regional infrastructure

Local Level: addressing and changing regulatory barriers 

Resource Sharing

SBCFAN’s membership portal is a countywide hub for critical resources such as:

Opportunities for funding and financing, employment, land access, equipment, and materials

An innovative loan program, created in partnership with the Economic Development Collaborative (EDC), that connects food producers with trusted and vetted financial resources that break down the barriers associated with traditional loan programs

Grantmaking programs that are designed to include wraparound information, resources, and tools that food producers need to execute a successful project

Federal, state, and local grants or individual gifts that are aligned with members’ needs 

 

Santa Barbara County Food Action Network

Donate now!

Matching Challenge

Through December 31, 2022, the first $2,500 donated will be matched thanks to a generous challenge from the Giving List’s novel matching program.

Invest in a More Vibrant, Equitable, and Resilient Food System

SBCFAN is taking steps to make our regional food system work better for everyone – and ensure the food it provides is healthy, accessible, culturally reflective, and affordable for all. We are scaling up to meet increasing demand for support to convene and launch working groups, activate advocacy efforts, and develop a robust resource ecosystem. In order to meet this need and address the causes of our unstable food system, we are seeking $500,000 – or five gifts of $100,000. Your investment would directly support:

•2 full-time staff to oversee strategy, operations, and high-level coordination
•5 part-time staff for finance, working groups, communications, website management, marketing, and events
•Grant-writing funds to share countywide to support food system projects
•Seed funds to launch a revolving loan program for food system projects
•Regional innovation that can be iterated nationally

To make a gift or to learn more, contact Executive Director Shakira Miracle at smiracle@sbcfoodaction.org or (805) 705-5452.

Mission

SBCFAN connects, aligns, and activates food system changemakers to develop a robust local food economy, a healthy and just community, and a well-stewarded, resilient foodshed.

www.sbcfoodaction.org
(805) 705-5452
Executive Director: Shakira Miracle

Begin to Build a Relationship

We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s director of development and/or Executive Director.

Farming can be solitary, but the solidarity our grain producer cooperative has built will have lasting impacts on our success as farmers, helping grow our small operations so they act as examples and incubators for a new diverse generation of mentored farmers. The power of an organization like SBCFAN to support the activation and sustainability of such work, thereby effecting substantive, permanent change to our local food system, cannot be overstated.
Melissa Sorongon
Baker|Miller|Owner, Piedrasassi Wine & Bread
Founding Member, Central Coast Regenerative Equipment Alliance