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Santa Barbara County Food Action Network (SBCFAN) announces the recipients of its 2020 Food System Resilience Grants. Grants totalling $150,000 are given to support the achievement of Food Action Plan goals by contributing to the broader food systems of Santa Barbara County. SBCFAN is awarding the grants in partnership with the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County and the Santa Barbara Foundation.

The nonprofits receiving 2020 Food System Resilience Grants are:

Blue Sky Center Sustainable Living Center

Based in the Cuyama Valley, will receive $14,500 to grow their Cuyama Valley Healthy Foods Initiative, Victory Gardens Program. Read our profile on the Blue Sky Center.

Central Coast Regenerative Equipment Sharing Alliance

Based in Lompoc, will receive $21,500 to purchase and share a mobile seed cleaner and no-till planter. This technology will allow for the planting of locally adapted and heritage varieties that suit the climate and culture.

El Centro Santa Barbara

Based in Santa Barbara, will receive $20,000 for their Somos Semillas Garden, a space for community members to engage in place-based learning, public health, nutrition education, and community empowerment.

Organic Soup Kitchen

Based in Santa Barbara, will receive $10,000 to support staffing for their Cancer & Chronic Illness Recovery Program due to COVID-19 causing an increase in people served.

Route One Farmers Market

Based in Lompoc, will receive $25,000 to improve food accessibility by launching the first Mobile Farmers Market as a pilot project in Santa Barbara County.

SYV Fruit & Vegetable Rescue

Based in Santa Ynez, will receive $25,000 to build a mobile solar refrigeration unit and launch field trials in various locations in Santa Barbara County.

St. Mark’s in the Valley

Based in Los Olivos, will receive $9,000 to support the launch of community kitchens.

White Buffalo Land Trust

Based in Summerland, will receive $25,000 to facilitate their Holistic Management Intensive Course which offers a systems approach to the management of livestock operations.

Applications were vetted through a process of research, planning, due diligence and evaluation. The grants were reviewed by an external volunteer committee whose expertise ensures an equitable and impact driven approach to the review process. The maximum award was $25,000, with no minimum requirement.

The 2020 Resilience Grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations throughout Santa Barbara County, providing programs or services that address one or more of the SBCFAN’s 16 Food Action Plan Goals, which fall under 4 Big Actions. Diana O’Connell, Executive Director of SYV Fruit & Vegetable Rescue, shared, “The grant application process was designed in a clever way as it made the applicant so familiar with the Food Action Plan. It also got me to refine and expand my vision.”

Priority was given to organizations that will use the funds to strengthen the Network; take into account external shocks to the food system (such as the COVID-19 pandemic); and/or effectively respond to the urgent needs of their local community that could be replicated Countywide and beyond.

The funding source for the grants is the Santa Barbara Foundation, whose mission is to mobilize collective wisdom and philanthropic capital to build empathetic, inclusive, and resilient communities. Funds will then be distributed by Foodbank of Santa Barbara County in partnership with SBCFAN. Santa Barbara Foundation and Foodbank of Santa Barbara County serve on the Executive Committee for SBCFAN and work closely with Network partners to advance the common goal of building a resilient local food system.

Review Committee

Kirsten Criswell
Kirsten Criswell has consulted with school districts for more than 13 years. She formerly worked with the Orfalea Foundation’s School Food Initiative. Currently, she is the coordinator of the annual Santa Barbara County School Wellness Summit, as well as, a program assistant with the CalFresh Healthy Living program at the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department. Her areas of expertise are local school wellness policy and school nutrition programs. She supports a county-wide effort by school districts and partner agencies to foster a culture of health and wellness on school campuses, while striving to keep student health and wellness in the forefront of high-level conversations around student achievement. Farm to School and School Gardens programs were part of her work with the Orfalea Foundation, and continue to be with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, and through her family’s kiwifruit ranch. While at the Orfalea Foundation, she participated in the initial development of the Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan with the workgroup that focused on goals and strategies encompassing schools.

Kiah Jordan
Kiah Jordan launched Impact Family Office in order to focus on the alignment of capital resources with an impact strategy. Prior to starting Impact Family Office, Kiah worked for Santa Barbara Capital, a real estate investment firm, and it was during this time that Kiah completed his Certified Financial Planner™ designation and found a passion for applying a holistic planning perspective to personal finances and business operations. Kiah graduated from Westmont College with degrees in Economics and Business and also Spanish. He completed his master’s degree in Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.

An advocate for socially conscious ventures and entrepreneurship, Kiah has dedicated much of his time to start-ups and organizations benefiting the Central Coast community. He is an alumnus of the Katherine Harvey Fellows program, is a founding board member of the Sustainable Change Alliance, and serves on the Executive Committee for the Santa Barbara County Food Action Network. Kiah formerly served on the board of the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, was featured in the 2015 Pacific Coast Business Times 40 Under 40: Class of 2015, and is an adjunct professor at Westmont College.

Erin Krier
Erin Krier is the coordinator and instructor for the Agriculture program at Allan Hancock College. She is the faculty advisor for the Collegiate Young Farmers & Ranchers club and the Rodeo Team. Erin was raised in Santa Maria and after studying Spanish and Mexican history and culture at La Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, she earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Prescott College in Environmental Education. Erin then completed her Master’s Degree from Cal Poly State University in Agriculture, with a specialization in Crop Science, where her thesis work focused on nutrient control of plant pathogens in broccoli and cabbage. Erin spent several years working for an agriculture research company doing field research to test new pesticide formulations for efficacy on almost all fruit and vegetable crops grown on the Central Coast and in the San Joaquin Valley. Prior to coming to Allan Hancock College, Erin worked in the pest detection division of the San Luis Obispo County Agricultural Commissioner’s office.

Mia Lopez
Mia Lopez, Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation’s Administrative Assistant, a member and Tribal Representative of the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation, and Former Tribal Chair, has served her community with environmental issues that affected our lands and coast. Has acted as liaison for the Tribe and the City of Santa Barbara, UCSB, SBCC, County Parks, and many local schools lecturing on contemporary and historical Chumash culture and bringing people together to acknowledge the land and people throughout Chumash territory. As a certified naturalist, it has been her role to educate the community about Chumash relationships with their lands, plants, animals and their maritime traditions. Maintaining connections with her villages is very important to her and being able to share the special details with small groups coming through Chumash lands, heading nature walks with organizations in our areas, gives her the opportunity not only to share a little about native plant history, but also to talk about the many village sites, that this city is built upon.

Alejandra Mahoney

Kendra Wise

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