Cristal's Blog


February 12, 2024

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The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County stands as a beacon of hope and transformation. Beyond its role as a provider of sustenance, the Foodbank is pioneering a movement to cultivate a healthier and more vibrant community. This organization's unwavering commitment to the community features experiences not just designed to end hunger but to create a comprehensive journey towards holistic well-being. As such, The Foodbank's vision extends far beyond the immediate, seeking to nourish not only the bodies but also the spirits of the individuals who live here, sowing the seeds of health, fostering resilience, and instigating positive change within the fabric of Santa Barbara County.

A smiling female Foodbank of Santa Barbara County volunteer giving a woman a bag of vegetables.

What Does That Mean? How Are Those Goals Being Implemented?

Mission Beyond Hunger
The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County has carved its niche as a leader and expert in enhancing the nutritional health of the region. With a mission to end hunger and elevate the health of Santa Barbara County through good nutrition, the Foodbank goes beyond the traditional role of similar nonprofits to bring health and vitality to locals.

"We're rewriting the narrative on what a food bank means," explains Alanie Rossell, Digital Engagement Specialist at Foodbank of Santa Barbara. "It's not just a bank of food; it's a safe space where anyone of any culture, age, or ethnicity can come to seek nutritious free foods, nutrition education programs and other great community resources. The Foodbank isn't only for the unhoused; it's for all types of neighbors."

She goes on to say, "Imagine the student who skips a meal to pay for textbooks or the mom who provides meals for her kids but goes hungry due to the high cost of living. You can have a job but still struggle to afford daily meals. The Foodbank of Santa Barbara is here, free from judgment, as a supportive resource throughout your life's journey. And with our Myth-Busting Mondays series, we're challenging stereotypes and debunking misconceptions, helping to destigmatize seeking food assistance and visiting the Foodbank. Please join us in rewriting the narrative and creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for all."

A gold-colored flyer from the Foodbank Santa Barbara County about honoring heritage through food with verbiage and pictures of food.

Providing the Basics, Plus Much More
A food bank typically provides sustenance, but the organization in Santa Barbara County goes the extra mile by offering important program complements including nutrition education, disaster preparedness, environmental sustainability, and community resilience. This comprehensive approach aims to eradicate the underlying causes of malnutrition and malnourishment, providing a holistic solution for the entire county.

A man holding a basket of vibrantly colored  fruits and vegetables with a child picking an orange from the basket.

Nutrition Education
Central to the local not-for-profit's strategy is the commitment to transform hunger into health through food literacy. By combining nourishment, education, and empowerment, the Foodbank builds a skill set designed to empower individuals to care for themselves through responsible food buying, cooking, and usage. Their nationally recognized continuum of nutrition programs spans from preschool to elder education, catering to families, children, and seniors alike.

The Foodbank Santa Barbara County truck with vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables painted on the side.

Disaster Preparedness
In times of crisis, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County stands as a lifeline for the community. Serving as the primary nutrition resource during emergencies, it plays a crucial role in Santa Barbara County's disaster preparedness. As the lead organization of Volunteer Organizations Assisting in Disaster in Santa Barbara County (VOAD-SBC), the organization ensures community relief and imparts essential preparedness education. Since the challenging times of the Thomas Fire and 1/9 Debris Flow in Montecito, the Foodbank has implemented emergency food box systems, initiated county-wide emergency feeding plans, and conducted preparedness conferences to enhance plans and communication with partners.

The facade of a building with columns in Santa Barbara with people milling about in front of it.

Community Resilience
Collaborating with local non-profit organizations, the Foodbank strengthens community resilience. The Food Action Plan, intertwined with nutrition education and disaster preparedness initiatives, addresses local food system sustainability and responsible usage. This holistic approach creates a long-term roadmap for the county's economy, health, and foodshed. By distributing nourishment to other non-profits, the Foodbank ensures a broader reach to those seeking assistance, building a robust network of support.

"We're rewriting the narrative on what the Foodbank means," explains Alanie Rossell, Digital Engagement Specialist at Foodbank Santa Barbara. "It's not just a bank of food; it's a safe space where anyone of any culture, age, or ethnicity can come to seek nutritious free foods, nutrition education programs and other great community resources. The Foodbank isn't only for the unhoused; it's for all types of neighbors." 

She goes on to say, "Imagine the student who skips a meal to pay for textbooks or the mom who provides meals for her kids but goes hungry due to the high cost of living. You can have a job but still struggle to afford daily meals. Foodbank Santa Barbara is here, free from judgment, as a supportive resource throughout your life's journey. And with our Myth-Busting Mondays series, we're challenging stereotypes and debunking misconceptions, helping to destigmatize seeking food assistance and visiting the foodbank. Join us in rewriting the narrative and creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for all."

Vital Programs of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County

In addition to the Food Action Plan, some of the other meaningful programs provided by The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County include:

  • Feed the Future, a series of innovative initiatives fostering nutritional independence and health in children from the womb to high school graduation.
  • The Older Adult Nutrition Program serves nearly 1,200 low-income elderly adults, providing crucial support for those struggling with housing, healthcare, and basic needs on fixed incomes.
  • The Healthy School Pantry program is a monthly after-school “health fair” for children and families, featuring nutritious food and more. This program has garnered awards for its impact.
  • The Mobile Farmers Market is a produce Initiative designed to deliver in-season fruits and vegetables weekly to six nutritionally underserved communities countywide through Foodbank Mobile Farmer’s Markets operating via community centers and churches.
  • The Mobile Food Pantry Program extends food distributions to underserved communities across Santa Barbara County, offering essential nutritional items such as rice, beans, canned goods, bread, protein items, and fresh produce.
  • The group's Emergency Feeding Plan focuses on improving county-wide preparedness in the event of a disaster, collaborating with more than 30 organizations, including nonprofits, and county and city offices, to develop the Multi-Agency Disaster Feeding Plan for Santa Barbara County.

Follow the Foodbank on Instagram for more info on resources within the community as well as videos on debunking misconceptions.

Now you know, in the societal heart of Santa Barbara County, the Foodbank is not just a lifeline during challenging times; it's a catalyst for positive change. Through education, preparedness, and resilience-building, this important 501(c)(3) is sowing the seeds of health, nourishing bodies, minds, and spirits in our county.

So, let me handle the sale or purchase of your home here; granting you the luxury of time to focus on your priorities, like volunteering, perhaps. No time to volunteer? The organization also needs donations to leverage their unique bulk buying power and relationships to maximize the amount of food purchased per dollar. As we strive to build a better community, consider supporting the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.

Of Related Interest

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Client Reviews

“It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

- J & A

“Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch