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2020 Food System Resilience Grants

SBCFAN piloted a Food System Resilience grantmaking program, distributing $150,000 to support organizations working to advance Food Action Plan goals. Priority was given to organizations that will use the funds to strengthen the Network; take into account external shocks to the food system (such as the COVID-19 pandemic); and/or effectively respond to the urgent needs of their local community that could be replicated countywide – and beyond.

Applications were vetted through a process of research, planning, due diligence and evaluation. Each application was first screened by Santa Barbara County Public Health Department’s Environmental Health Services to directly connect those that may need licensing and/or permitting for their project to the appropriate city/county department. The grants were reviewed by an external volunteer committee whose expertise ensured an equitable and impact driven approach to the review process. The maximum award was $25,000, with no minimum requirement.

Diana O’Connell, Executive Director of Veggie Rescue, shared, “The grant application process was designed in a clever way as it made the applicant so familiar with the Food Action Plan. It also got me to refine and expand my vision.”

The Santa Barbara Foundation, whose mission is to mobilize collective wisdom and philanthropic capital to build empathetic, inclusive, and resilient communities, provided funding for the grants.


Blue Sky Center Sustainable Living Center

Based in the Cuyama Valley, Blue Sky Center received $14,500 to grow their Cuyama Valley Healthy Foods Initiative and Victory Gardens Program.

Norma And Sandra Celebrate The Success Of This Lush Garden On A Tiny Patch Of Ground.
Read the Success Story

Central Coast Regenerative Equipment Sharing Alliance

Based in Lompoc, the Equipment Sharing Alliance received $21,500 to purchase a mobile seed cleaner and no-till planter that will support farmers in planting locally adapted and heritage varieties that suit the climate and culture.

Read the Success Story

El Centro Santa Barbara

Based in Santa Barbara, El Centro received $20,000 for their Somos Semillas Garden, a space for community members to engage in place-based learning, public health, nutrition education, and community empowerment.

Read the Success Story

Organic Soup Kitchen

Based in Santa Barbara, Organic Soup Kitchen received $10,000 to support increased staffing to meet the growing demand for their Cancer & Chronic Illness Recovery Program during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Route One Farmers Market

Based in Lompoc, Route One received $25,000 to launch the first Mobile Farmers Market as a pilot project to improve food accessibility in Santa Barbara County.

Read the Success Story


Based in Santa Ynez, Veggie Rescue received $25,000 to build a mobile solar refrigeration unit and launch field trials in various locations throughout Santa Barbara County.

Read the Success Story

St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley

Based in Los Olivos, St. Mark’s received $9,000 to support the launch of the Santa Ynez Valley Community Kitchen.

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White Buffalo Land Trust

Based in Summerland, White Buffalo received $25,000 to facilitate a Holistic Management Intensive Course which offers a systems approach to the management of livestock operations.

Read the Success Story

Review Committee

Kirsten Criswell
Program Assistant, CalFresh Healthy Living program – Santa Barbara County Public Health Department

Kiah Jordan
Founder, Impact Family Office

Erin Krier
Coordinator & Instructor, Allan Hancock College

Mia Lopez
Administrative Assistant, Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation
Tribal Representative of the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation

Alejandra Mahoney
Owner, Blosser Urban Garden

Kendra Wise
Supervising Environmental Health Specialist, Santa Barbara Public Health Department


Less than 1% of produce grown in Santa Barbara County is consumed here. According to David Cleveland, a food systems researcher at UCSB, fully 95 percent of the fruits and vegetables consumed in the county are shipped in from elsewhere.1 “Picture two produce-laden tractor-trailers passing on the highway,” he said. “One bringing food into the county; the other hauling it out.” These shocking facts led to a galvanization of people across sectors to further examine what created this outcome and to develop a roadmap to address it.

Published in 2016, the Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan is 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 a roadmap for food system resilience for generations to come.

In the following years, the Community Environmental Council and Foodbank of Santa Barbara County continued spearheading efforts to carry forward Food Action Plan goals. In 2019, the Santa Barbara County Food Action Network (SBCFAN) was launched to connect, align, and activate countywide food system actors to develop a robust local food economy, a healthy and just community, and a well-stewarded, resilient foodshed.

Focus Areas

Grants were given to nonprofit organizations providing programs or services that address and/or achieve one or more of the Food Action Plan Goals. Funding could be used for one of two areas:

New collaborations in research, planning or project activation that lay the foundation for future food system initiatives or create opportunities for broader impact.

Expansion or development of existing and proven food system programs, models and organizations that leverage established resources or partnerships. Projects can be collaborative, an individual organization, or an initiative.

Priorities for Both Focus Areas

Priority was given to organizations that:

  • Used funds to strengthen the network and not limit its growth – collaborative and not competitive.
  • Took into account external shocks to the food system, such as the COVID-19 pandemic in their project/program plan.
  • Demonstrated cultural competence in their project and/or program by being responsive to and in coordination with the constituency being served.

Funding Amount and Duration

The maximum award for 2020 SBCFAN grants was $25,000, with no minimum requirement. The grant period was up to one year from the award date.

In lieu of a final report, grantees are required to attend a convening with other recipients to learn and share your work in 2021, as well as provide written information about your grant.

Application Deadline: November 10, 2020
Funds Awarded: December 2020

Donor Recognition

As a partner in your efforts, Santa Barbara County Food Action Network is pleased to be acknowledged in any communication materials related to the grant activity. If you choose to use the Santa Barbara County Food Action Network logo on any printed or online material, please refer to our press and media resources page.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Organizations must be certified as tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or use a fiscal sponsor with 501(c)(3) tax status. Applications that do not contain a valid EIN (tax ID) number will not be considered.
  • Applications from public entities such as schools, universities, and libraries through an affiliate or supporting 501(c)(3) organization can be accepted.
  • An agency acting as the fiscal sponsor on behalf of a community collaborative may be eligible to submit proposals on behalf of its own agency needs as well as the needs of the collaborative. Please email for more information and to discuss your specific situation.
  • A fiscal sponsor may submit one application on behalf of their organization and one application acting as a fiscal sponsor per grant program.
  • Funds are used to serve constituents within Santa Barbara County.
  • The impact of the deployed funds can be measured and reported upon.
  • Programs or services directly address one of more Food Action Plan goals.

Grants are not awarded for the following purposes or activities:

  • Debt
  • Endowment
  • Fundraising events or Sponsorships
  • Individuals
  • Reimbursement for activities that occurred prior to the grant award date
  • Influencing legislation and/or elections (within the meaning of section 4945(d)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code); except as that activity may be related to the purpose of the grant, and permitted for 501(c)(3) organizations by applicable law or Internal Revenue Service regulations.
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