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By Sharan Street
Published Nov 20, 2023

Image credit: Courtesy of Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz

Take It to the Bank

For Greeks and Romans, the concept was "philanthropia"—a term first used in 500 BCE by Aeschylus in Prometheus Bound. The ancient Egyptians called it Ma’at. African cultures embraced Ubuntu. Buddhists and Hindus practiced Dana. Jews practiced Tzedakah while Christians preached Caritas and Muslims honored Sadaqah.

It all adds up to the concept of giving to others.

From now until the end of the year, ’tis the season indeed. Look no further than these large fundraising efforts in our coverage area:

Give Back Tahoe 2023, spearheaded by the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, runs Nov. 28-Dec. 31.

Run to Feed the Hungry, the country’s largest Thanksgiving Day fun run, takes place Nov. 23.

Monterey County Gives, a collaboration between the Monterey County Weekly, the Monterey Peninsula Foundation and the Community Foundation for Monterey County, runs through Dec. 31.

Santa Cruz Gives, presented by Good Times in partnership with the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County, and with the support of various local nonprofits, runs through Dec. 31.


Food for Thought

This is also the harvest season, when we share bountiful meals around the holiday table. But the flip side of bounty is paucity, and that’s something far too many Californians experience. California Local’s Jonathan Vankin digs into this subject in an explainer on hunger and food insecurity—and the difference between them. He also explores some governmental and societal actions that would help eliminate hunger.


Hunger and Food Insecurity in California: What It Is, What to Do About It

Almost half of all low-income Black adults in California experience food insecurity.
Hunger and food insecurity have become persistent problems in California. With the world’s fifth-largest economy, what steps can we take to make sure that everyone has enough to eat?

Nourishing the Community

Despite California’s agricultural bounty, many households find that paychecks don’t cover the high cost of housing and other necessities—and they may find themselves becoming food insecure. When that happens, thankfully it’s possible for them to make a withdrawal from a local food bank. These nonprofit organizations are dedicated to safely storing millions of pounds of food that can be deployed to nutritional programs, food pantries and soup kitchens.

The oldest food bank was founded in 1967 in Arizona, but the second-oldest was born right in California. After more than 50 years, this Santa Cruz-based nonprofit is still going strong. In 1979 it became part of Second Harvest, a group of 13 food banks; since then, that network has grown into the national organization Feeding America.

Erica Padilla-Chavez, Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz’s new CEO, talks with California Local about the challenges she faced—floods, storm damage, and tough economic times—since coming into the job in 2022. She also describes how Santa Cruzans reacted when times got tough. Explaining that there’s “something magical” about the food bank, Padilla-Chavez asserts, “The community really embraces this place as their own.”

As we enjoy a little down time to celebrate a holiday that’s all about giving thanks, this is an opportune time to think about what nonprofit groups in our communities are doing something magical. And then embrace them as our own.


Setting the Table for Social Change

Second Harvest CEO Erica Padilla-Chavez (at right) with a group of local Rotary members who helped wrap Holiday Food & Fund Drive barrels.
Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County CEO Erica Padilla-Chavez looks at food insecurity as a symptom of an underlying disorder—one that can be cured.

California’s Oldest Food Bank Pays It Forward

Working together with many volunteers, this crew feeds 65,000 people in Santa Cruz County every month.
For the food-insecure community in Santa Cruz County, Second Harvest Food Bank feeds the need.


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