May 5, 2020, SANTA BARBARA, CA – The Santa Barbara County Food Action Network (SBCFAN) is proud to announce the selection of its first Executive Director, Shakira Miracle. Her hiring comes at a critical time when the strain and stress on our local food system is at an unprecedented high due to COVID-19.
The Santa Barbara County Food Action Network grew out of the development of a community-driven strategic 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.
Shakira Miracle, the new SBCFAN Executive Director, is a human-centered systems designer and strategic thinker with almost 20 years’ experience serving the philanthropic, government, faith, and business sectors in North America and China. Her career has included roles in operations, facilitation, fundraising, and advocacy, and she has sat on boards of for profit and nonprofit organizations. Her 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.
Allegra Roth of the Community Environmental Council, who co-chairs the SBCFAN Executive Committee, commented, “Bringing on an Executive Director is allowing the network to ramp up efforts at the very moment that stresses on our food system are at a peak. Shakira’s leadership is helping us better leverage response plans to COVID-19 and take timely action to support the efforts of the many organizations doing good work in the food system.”
Miracle noted, “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. We believe the COVID experience will accelerate the pace and depth of achieving our ultimate goal of building a resilient food system in Santa Barbara County.”
The network is guided by an executive committee with representatives from across the county, including the Blue Sky Center in New Cuyama, Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, Allan Hancock Community College in Santa Maria, and White Buffalo Land Trust in Summerland. The network is currently facilitating stakeholder discussions on a weekly basis around such issues as locally based food processing and delivery. The Santa Barbara Foundation serves as a major partner in the work, with additional support from other funders such as the Natalie Orfalea Foundation.