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Culture and Identity

Foodbank of Santa Barbara County opens 'soul kitchen' in Lompoc

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Jennifer Zacharias
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Foodbank of Santa Barbara County's Erik Talkin (center) welcomes two new Alma Cena Sana Nutrition Advocates.

The organization that operates Santa Barbara County’s food bank and network of food pantries has started a new program in Lompoc known as a Community Food Access Center. 

“The name of the program is Alma Cena Sana, which is Spanish for ‘soul kitchen.’ The idea of a place where you can go and get food, fellowship and education, and that’s really what this program is all about,” Foodbank of Santa Barbara County CEO Erik Talkin said.

The new program takes place at the El Camino Center, an adult education center in Lompoc. It’s meant to be a one-stop shop for building food literacy and health, and takes place every Wednesday from 3 to 5:30 p.m.

Alma Cena Sana is not only designed to help folks put food on the table. Community members will find yoga and Zumba classes, kid’s activities and health screenings. There’s also a business incubator designed to teach basic business skills and info for those interested in making money by preparing meals for various Foodbank programs.

“What it means is that people within the community of Lompoc can go to the same location at the same time each week and receive education around food, they can receive food itself and various other trainings and community building activities,” Talkin said. “So it’s a way of fighting hunger on a very local, neighborhood level.”

Volunteers called Nutrition Advocates will staff and host the weekly event. Once these volunteers complete a training process, they are qualified to in turn lead and train other communities members to do the same. New volunteers are welcome to apply throughout the year, said Foodbank staff.

The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is planning on establishing similar programs on the west side of Santa Barbara and in Santa Maria by early 2018.

Funding for these programs comes from an annual $35,000 grant from Santa Barbara County, and through individual donations, said Talkin.