WHY THE SANTA BARBARA COUNTY FOOD ACTION NETWORK MATTERS
Food is such a basic human need, and yet we take for granted that it will always be in abundance. We have no guarantee of this, even with our region’s year-round growing seasons and deep agricultural history. The past is becoming a less and less reliable map for the future, particularly when it comes to a stable climate and other natural resources. Over the next 25 years, population growth in the county is expected to increase by 100,000 people, which means more pressure on water supply, agricultural lands, open spaces, transportation corridors and waste processing facilities. Our region is also faced with a multi-year drought, pressure to develop agricultural lands, significant amounts of food waste, and other threats to the long-term sustainability of our foodshed.
WHAT CEC IS DOING
In recognition of both these challenges and opportunities, we launched a strategy-based community process that ultimately created a blueprint for an accessible, thriving, sustainable, and healthy food system. The Food Action Plan addresses every aspect of the food system—production, processing, distribution, access, and waste management—in a way that supports healthy people, a healthy economy, and a healthy environment.
The Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan is a culmination of 1,200 volunteer hours by over 200 community members guided by working groups and the Advisory Committee. The Community Environmental Council and Foodbank of Santa Barbara County spearheaded the project, in partnership with the Santa Barbara Foundation’s LEAF Initiative (Landscape, Ecosystems, Agriculture, Food Systems) and the Orfalea Foundation.
This 100-page plan includes 16 goals and 55 strategies for meeting them. To make our food system more resilient for future generations, the plan calls upon us to: invest in our food economy, invest in our health and wellness, invest in our community and invest in our foodshed. Several of these strategies are of particular interest to CEC’s efforts on climate, and we are already lining up projects on carbon farming and food waste reduction.
Visit sbcfoodaction.org to learn more and download the plan.
Over the course of 14 months, we listened to concerns from the community, facilitated dialogue among key stakeholders and organizations, identified opportunities for collaboration, and designated opportunities for shared investment and community impact. In addition to developing the plan itself, this effort has created a network, and encouraged investment in implementing the strategies that emerged, as seen in other communities.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
1. Utilize the plan to further your work and leverage additional support
The Food Action Plan is supported by multiple jurisdictions, government agencies and community-based organizations throughout Santa Barbara County. Aligning your current and future work with the plan will strengthen the impact of your projects and programs, and leverage a network of community leaders dedicated to achieving the designated goals and strategies.
2. Investigate sample resources and policies that align with the mission and values of your organization
The Food Action Plan highlights resources and policies in support of designated strategies that are linked to local, state and national organizations. We encourage you to contact organizational leaders and engage with existing partnerships and collaboratives.
3. Invest in the implementation of goals and strategies
Food Action Plan partner organizations will continue to collaborate with the support of local foundations and individual donors. If you would like to donate in support of this work, please go to CECSB.org/donate.