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Representatives from the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County joined with Lompoc community members Wednesday afternoon to celebrate the opening of the Foodbank’s first Community Food Access Center.

The new center, named Alma Cena Sana, is located at Lompoc’s El Camino Community Center, at West Laurel Avenue and North I Street. The center is one of the Foodbank’s newest initiatives created through the Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan.

The goal of the center, according to the Foodbank, is to make long-term changes in the health, nutrition and independence of North County residents who deal with food insecurity. Every Wednesday, members of the community are invited to visit the center to participate in a variety of free programs, such as cooking and exercise classes, presentations from area nonprofits or to receive support from the Foodbank’s “Food As Medicine” program.

A business incubator model will also be incorporated into the Food Access Center, according to the Foodbank, to provide business education and mentoring to individuals interested in getting involved in local food-based businesses.

Foodbank officials said they anticipate that 2,000 community members will benefit from the center and participate in nutrition classes, health screenings, diabetes education classes and wellness workshops. Zumba and yoga classes, as well as kid’s activities, are also being offered at the center.

The Food Access Center projects that a large portion of its visitors will frequently return throughout the year, with many signing up to take the education courses offered.

The center will be led by a core group of volunteer nutrition advocates. These advocates will provide on-site support and guidance to visitors, and promote engagement and participation in the various programs at the center.

After going through a thorough training process, each nutrition advocate will be equipped to lead and train other potential advocates, establishing a base of community leaders within the Food Access Center, reports the Foodbank. New participants in the Nutrition Advocate Training Program are welcome throughout the year and encouraged to apply.

The volunteer nutrition advocates picked the Spanish name for the center, Alma Cena Sana, because when used as three words, the name means “healthy soul dinner.” When used as “Almacena Sana” it translates to “healthy pantry.”

For more information about the center, contact Lee Sherman at 967-5741, ext. 107.

Reprinted from the Lompoc Record

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