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Food from the Heart delivers cooked meals to those in need, for almost 30 years

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -  It's a three day process and it feeds those in need, with healthy meals in Santa Barbara and Goleta.It is making a life changing difference.

"It's food from the heart.  It comes from here," said Head Chef Aaron Casale who tapped his heart.   
Food from the Heart is so much bigger now than when it began in 1994 out of a home kitchen with about two dozen people on the  list. Back then it was part of the Aids Project.

Founder Evelyn Jacob said, "and it  kept gathering volunteers and  gathering clients until  28 years later   here we are doing the same thing except instead of 25 clients we are up to  160  each week. "

These days they are using the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Santa Barbara with a few paid staff and an army of volunteers.

 Casale said, "Monday and Tuesday is dicing and cooking and Wednesday is packaging for delivery."
In a recent visit, 40 gallons of vegan soup was being cooked up.

"We do large quantities," said Casale who said he could not walk away from the soup pot long.
Everything for the meals is being cut, sliced, stuff and prepared to help those who can not get a hot healthy meal for themselves and are in this program on a special referral due to their needs.

"All the nutrition, packed full of vegetables and nutrients and  a lot of people are recovering from surgeries and they need that ," said Casale.

This week is a holiday ham dinner, with string beans, stuffed bell peppers and multiple side dishes including heaping portions of salad, zucchini bread and each one is in an individual  container   -  much more than someone would eat in a normal setting.

There's also a bag of locally picked fruit, and some donated Mary Kay products.  One donation was a holiday wrapped box of candy.

The ham this week was donated by the Assistance League.

Going through one of the bags and checking out the servings and found,  it's often eventually separated into several meals.   Plus they get the menu and some comics.

"A lot of drivers will deliver this  along with this menu and for a lot of drivers they go in and unpack this for our people and give this to the clients so they have something to read," said longtime Volunteer Kelly Onnen who showed a menus sheet with comics at the bottom. 

One of the volunteers was packing the bags to the top.  It ended up weighing about 30 pounds.

While each recipient has a different story,  Jacob says she sees that they generally have  no family to help them no resources to help them and we deliver this food to them all made with so much love. Otherwise they would have no food and so and it is very different when you can get a bag of food delivered to your house that will last five days."

Each volunteer driver has about ten bags to deliver on Wednesdays.

Kathy Haklai rang a doorbell in downtown Santa Barbara with one of her bags and was met by Deborah  Falkenburg.     "Hello. Hi Debby  Happy Holidays she said."   
Haklai was surprised to receive a gift back!

Food from the Heart with a  heartfelt exchange of food and friendship is something often seen at doors throughout the delivery routes

Falkenburg said, "there are no words to say how much she helps me.  It is amazing.   Everything. She makes my life so much easier .  She is part of my family.  She is part of my family. absolutely!
As she waved she said "so Happy Holidays to everybody! "

For more information go to : "Food From the Heart."

(More video, photos and details will be added here later today)

Article Topic Follows: Lifestyle

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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