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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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O'Neill Sea Odyssey logo O'Neill Sea Odyssey

O’Neill Sea Odyssey offers a hands-on science program about the ocean to kids in grades 4-6.

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Good Times logo County Supervisors Approve Housing Plan

The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved its 2023 Housing Element, a plan that will serve as a roadmap to meet projected housing needs in the unincorporated areas of the county through 2031.

The Pajaronian logo Nurses Picket at Watsonville Hospital

Dozens of nurses gathered outside Watsonville Community Hospital for a publicity picket, saying they want a contract that will allow them to attract and retain nurses, thus improving patient care.

Good Times logo Third Time’s the Charm

Craft beer might be trending down nationally, but here in Santa Cruz, businesses continue to bet on beer enthusiasts. Leslie Buchanan, co-owner of new taproom Balefire Brewing Co., is willing to take her chances.

Good Times logo Santa Cruz Gives Launches

This week the annual community-wide fundraiser features organizations providing health and wellness services.

KSQD logo Gen Z and the Labor Movement

It’s been a few banner years for the labor movement. A new episode of KSQD’s “Moment of Truth” show discusses Gen Z’s impact on the labor movement and the current controversial Starbucks Union stance to support Palestine.

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Proposed rules would allow natural gas in new construction, but require that the buildings include enough physical space and electric capacity to be converted to electric power in the future.

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Recent Local News

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• Big Basin: Redwood Trees’ Recovery Is ‘Remarkable,’ While Some Species Still Struggle

More than three years after a wildfire devastated Big Basin Redwoods State Park, the massive redwood trees continue to recover. But some wildlife species, particularly salmon, steelhead and some types of birds, could take many years to bounce back.

(11/20/2023) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• Vandalism, Theft Won’t Stop Santa Cruz Business

Despite being struck with a one-two punch of criminal activity in recent weeks, the owner of Handsome Beauty Bar plans to fight back with a show of resilience.

(11/17/2023) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• San Lorenzo Valley Veterans Housing Site Set to Double

Some two years after plans to convert a San Lorenzo Valley motel into affordable veteran housing were announced, the property's new owners say they expect the Highway 9 site’s capacity to nearly double in size by the end of 2024.

(11/17/2023) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• Community Bridges Assists Pajaro Families Facing Eviction

In the wake of approximately 24 families facing evictions from a Pajaro apartment complex as the property's owners prepare to work through violations cited by Monterey County, Watsonville-based nonprofit Community Bridges has intervened to assist those families.

(11/16/2023) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• 1 in 3 Households Struggle With Cost of Living in Santa Cruz County, Study Says

About one-third of Santa Cruz County households struggle to afford basic expenses like housing, healthcare and childcare, according to a new United Way study. That figure rises to 58% of Latino households in the county and 45% of households with young children.

(11/16/2023) → Read the full Lookout Local report

• Visit Santa Cruz County CEO Eyes International Markets, Expanded Business Travel

As the new head of Visit Santa Cruz County, Terence Concannon is not only aiming to bring in visitors from emerging markets but also to help build South County’s tourism infrastructure—all without alienating county residents in the process.

(11/15/2023) → Read the full Lookout Local report

• Santa Cruz Judges Face No Opposition in Primary

No contenders have filed to run against four sitting judges whose terms expire in 2024. The incumbents are Syda Cogliati, Jordan Sheinbaum, Katherine Hansen, and Leila Sayar—three of whom were appointed to their current terms.

(11/13/2023) → Santa Cruz Sentinel
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Recent Statewide News

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• One of Largest Cannabis Distribution Companies in State Goes Up in Smoke

HERBL, one of California’s biggest cannabis companies, collapsed earlier this year. The company, which sold $700 million of cannabis last year, reportedly shorted the state $17 million in taxes.

(11/20/2023) → SFGate

• CA Lottery Director Gives Notice

Alva Johnson, director of the California State Lottery has given his two weeks’ notice. Johnson had arrived in 2019, a year after a whistleblower complaint helped spur a reckoning for the agency.

(11/20/2023) → Sacramento Bee

• Schwarzenegger Rules Out U.S. Senate Bid, Talks California

Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger met Nov. 17 with Sacramento press corps members. He ruled out a U.S. Senate bid, saying the only thing he was interested in running for was president, while acknowledging he can’t do this because he was born in Austria.

(11/20/2023) → Sacramento Bee

• Oakland A’s Are Relocating to Las Vegas

Three years after the NFL's Raiders abandoned Oakland for Las Vegas, MLB's Oakland A's announced they're moving there too. The owners of the teams unanimously approved the MLB team’s move.

(11/17/2023) → CapPublicRadio

• Joe Biden Touts Gavin Newsom as a Future President

During a trip to San Francisco, President Biden said that California’s governor “could have the job I’m looking for.” The remarks have fueled speculation about whether Newsom might step in to run instead of Biden in 2024.

(11/16/2023) → SFGate

• Paul Pelosi Attacker Convicted, Faces Life in Prison

David DePape had originally targeted Pelosi’s wife, Rep. Nancy Pelosi. He was convicted in federal court on Nov. 16 and still faces state charges.

(11/16/2023) → KQED

• State Debuting Mental Health App for Young People Next Year

The state will offer a free mental health app beginning Jan. 1 for people ages 13-25. It is currently being tested in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

(11/15/2023) → Sacramento Bee

• Natural Resources Agency Launches Plan to Increase Outdoor Access in California

State and local leaders gathered in Los Angeles to celebrate a new plan that will increase access to the outdoors for all Californians, regardless of who they are or where they live.

(11/15/2023) → YubaNet

• Backlash Politics: How Conservatives Have Success Rolling Back California Progressivism

Lacking power at the state level, conservatives are leaning into local governance to protest California’s progressive politics. The fight in Huntington Beach could be a harbinger of what’s to come.

(11/14/2023) → CalMatters

• It's About to Get Easier for California College Students to Study in Their Own Language

Assembly Bill 1096, taking effect Jan. 1, will let community colleges in the state provide courses in non-English languages, regardless if a student is also taking ESL. Previously, a student had to sign up for the latter to qualify for the former.

(11/13/2023) → KQED

• Barbara Lee’s Lagging Senate Bid Doesn’t Equal Another House Term

Longtime Rep. Barbara Lee trails fellow representative Katie Porter and former Rep. Adam Schiff in their race for U.S. Senate. Lee still expressed determination to not seek a 14th term in the House, saying she’s running for Senate.

(11/13/2023) → Sacramento Bee
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Government Announcements

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Image of County of Santa Cruz seal. County of Santa Cruz   (11/19/2023)
11/19/2023 - Home for the Holidays Pet Adoption Special
Image of Santa Cruz County Office of Education seal. Santa Cruz County Office of Education   (11/17/2023)
Addressing Youth Homelessness
Dear community member, We often talk about the importance of stability at home on a child’s education and wellness. The most basic component of that stability is having a consistent and sufficient home in which to live in the first place. More than 2,700 Santa Cruz County students are currently experiencing homelessness, according to the [...] The post Addressing Youth Homelessness appeared first on Santa Cruz County Office Of Education.
Image of City of Watsonville seal. City of Watsonville   (11/17/2023)
WPD awarded grant from the Office of Traffic Safety to improve safety on Watsonville roads
Image of City of Watsonville seal. City of Watsonville   (11/17/2023)
Homemade Holiday
Join us for our annual Homemade Holiday family program.
Image of City of Watsonville seal. City of Watsonville   (11/17/2023)
Library Tech Night
Join us for Library Tech Night ~ Learn about podcasting equipment and 3D printers
Image of City of Watsonville seal. City of Watsonville   (11/17/2023)
Escape This!
Have you ever wanted to visit an escape room? Join us for “Escape This!”
Image of City of Watsonville seal. City of Watsonville   (11/17/2023)
Virtual Author Talks
Enjoy live virtual author talks this October ~ each talk features the opportunity to participate in an author Q&A or pre-submit questions during registration.
Image of County of Santa Cruz seal. County of Santa Cruz   (11/17/2023)
11/17/2023 - Friend, Ratner Receive Statewide Recognition
Image of Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission seal. Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission   (11/16/2023)
RTC Seeks Public Input on Aesthetic Design Elements for the Highway 1 Auxiliary Lanes, Bus-on-Shoulder, and Coastal Rail Trail Segment 12 Project
The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission is hosting a community open house to obtain public input on concepts for aesthetic design elements for the Highway 1 Auxiliary Lanes, Bus-on-Shoulder Facility (State Park Drive to Freedom Boulevard) & Coastal Rail Trail Segment 12 project. The open house is on Dec. 5, 2023, from 6:00 –... [Read More]
Image of Santa Cruz County Office of Education seal. Santa Cruz County Office of Education   (11/16/2023)
Wrapping Up the First Semester
We are heading into a holiday break, and all Alternative Education Schools will be closed from November 20 to 24, 2023. There are just four more weeks left in our first semester, and we are eagerly anticipating the January graduations scheduled for the week of January 15th. Invitations and a schedule of events will be [...] The post Wrapping Up the First Semester appeared first on Santa Cruz County Office Of Education.
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Upcoming Government Meetings

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Event sponsor logo City of Capitola / Capitola City Council Regular Meeting
Tuesday November 21 2023   7:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Capitola / Capitola City Council Regular Meeting
Thursday November 23 2023   7:00 PM
Event sponsor logo County of Santa Cruz / City Selection Committee
Tuesday November 28 2023   1:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Santa Cruz / City Council
Tuesday November 28 2023   3:30 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Santa Cruz / Downtown Commission
Thursday November 30 2023   8:30 AM