Erik Talkin – CEO Foodbank of Santa Barbara County
Two years ago I embarked on a journey into what for me was unknown territory – seeing whether I could survive on Food Stamps for a month. As CEO of an organization that has daily involvement with food provision and nutrition education, could I put my stalk of celery where my mouth was? I learned a lot, but like with most things in life, the lessons begin to ebb away with time, and have to be relearned.
What hasn’t ebbed away is the need in the community for both food stamps (called CalFresh in California) and the additional food provided by the Foodbank and its 330 member nonprofit agencies in the county. We were involved in a national study ‘Hunger in America’ through our partner organization, Feeding America, and the local data for Santa Barbara County made startling reading. 60% of those we serve are having to choose between food and medicine, and the total numbers served have grown to 140,000.
This made me realize that now was the time to return to see if I could succeed at what we ask thousands of families in our community to do every day of the year: survive on a tiny food budget. More than that, to find a way be healthy while I am doing it. My purpose is not to teach others a lesson, but to teach myself one.
You can follow my ‘food security challenge’ here on this blog and on all of Foodbank of Santa Barbara County’s social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and my Twitter, @Hunger2Health) During the four weeks, I will be reporting on what can often be an invisible world. I will be finding out how I can grow some of my own food; how Foodbank programs are addressing health issues such as diabetes head on, and what we can all do to make this situation better for our friends and neighbors in our community.
I look forward to keeping in touch with each of you and keeping healthy!
Thank you for all your support of and involvement in the work of the Foodbank!