Hello! I’m Shakira Miracle, the new Santa Barbara County Food Action Network Executive Director.
Not familiar with our Network? Here’s a little background.
The Santa Barbara County Food Action Network grew out of the development of a community-driven strategic Food Action Plan that assesses and provides recommendations for how we grow, distribute, consume, and dispose of food. Spearheaded by the Community Environmental Council and the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, more than 200 community members put in over 1,200 hours of volunteer guidance to produce the Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan, which was published in 2016.
Since then, SBCFAN has helped bridge partnerships and fuel regional collaboration across a diverse spectrum of food system change makers in all corners of the county. Engaging over 2,000 community members, some of the projects that have emerged include the Santa Barbara County Food Rescue network and a coalition of higher education institutions collectively addressing student food insecurity. These types of connections are evolving into a robust network that has been critical for our community’s response to COVID-19 impacts.
Now, a little about me.
A human-centered systems designer and strategic thinker, I’ve had almost 20 years’ experience serving the philanthropic, government, faith, and business sectors in North America and China. My career has included roles in operations, facilitation, fundraising, and advocacy, and I’ve also sat on boards of for profit and nonprofit organizations.
My previous work includes coordinating a poverty reduction initiative with the goal of sustainable change by facilitating the collective action of stakeholders, innovative experimentation and policy development. This experience in building sustainable change and activating across multiple groups and sectors maps perfectly onto the work of the Food Action Network.
With the strain and stress on our local food system at an unprecedented high due to COVID-19, this feels like the most critical time I could have stepped into this role to increase support for local food actors. Coming on at this time is allowing the network to ramp up efforts at the very moment that stresses on our food system are at a peak.
The coronavirus pandemic has illuminated both longstanding and emerging challenges and opportunities. Our regional food system players – from the producer to the consumer – are thinking outside the box and developing inclusive solutions. This all leads me to believe that the COVID experience will accelerate the pace and depth of achieving our ultimate goal of building a resilient food system in Santa Barbara County.
To encourage this growth and resilience, I’m working with our county-wide executive team to facilitate weekly stakeholder discussions around such issues as locally based food processing and delivery. Other opportunities for connection and collaboration are under works. We encourage all individuals, organizations, institutions, and businesses in the region who play a role in our food system to get involved and activate the Food Action Plan!
If you’re not already plugged into our work, please take a moment and subscribe to our email list here. At sbcfoodaction.org, you can also get involved by learning what other food system changemakers are up to on our site, as well as sharing news and resources your organization has to offer.