New food action plan to focus on 'food literacy' in Santa Barbara County

May 24, 2016

For many Santa Barbara County residents, access to proper nutrition and quality food is a struggle. 

Now, there is a new push to help change that. The Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan was created through a joint effort between several local agencies.

Erik Talkin, CEO of the Santa Barbara County Food Bank, said the plan is the second stage of its ongoing effort to feed the community. He says over the past decade the focus has evolved from combating hunger to tackling food insecurity.

“People are not dying of starvation on the streets of Santa Barbara, but what they have is food insecurity," she said. "They typically run out of money for healthy food, you know, sometime in the middle of the month, because of the pressing need of other bills that they have to pay, and so food becomes the thing that’s easiest to cut, so people have very poor quality food, and then they get sicker and they’re less able to work as a result of that. So it becomes like a vicious circle.”

Talkin said giving out food doesn’t make people more food secure, so they’ll focus on establishing food literacy.

"In terms of understanding how to shop, cook, plan meals, to budget accordingly and how to be able to store food," said Talkin.

He said many of the ideas behind the plan have worked in other communities, like San Luis Obispo County, which has its own food action plan. The plan’s implementation is goal-based.

Talkin said as they partner with other agencies for specific projects there will be more clear timelines attached.