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Healdsburg Highlights - November 2014


Healdsburg Highlights - November 2014

by Gina Riner

Hungry in Healdsburg?

I love food. I love growing food. I love cooking food. But most of all I love to eat food, especially with my family and friends. Growing up in a family of nine, most of our good times evolved around Italian food. Spaghetti with meat sauce, salad, and French bread was a typical Sunday supper for us. When my parents could afford it, we added Chicken Cacciatore to the meal. My German Dad and my Italian grandfather (we called him Papa) spent many pleasurable Sunday afternoons cooking in our kitchen or Papa’s basement kitchen in San Francisco. While my six siblings were out playing, and my mother and grandmother chatted in the backyard, I hung around the kitchen, happily listening to Papa and Daddy banter about how much garlic or oregano to add to the meat sauce, or what to put in the Minestrone soup. Towards dinnertime I had an important task assigned to me. Papa would tear off the end of a loaf of sourdough French bread, dip it in the sauce and hand it to me.  When I said, “Papa, it tastes delicious,” he would gleefully shout to the rest of the family, “Andiamo a mangiare!” (Let’s eat!).

This soul-satisfying childhood memory reminds me how important food is to living well and how it can deeply influence our security. But not everyone has enough food, even in an abundant place like Healdsburg. With an approximate population of 11,000 people, Healdsburg boasts over 40 restaurants, many of them featuring world-class cuisine, gourmet grocery stores, a farmer’s market, an organic market, and many farm stands. National lifestyle, food and wine magazines consistently tout Healdsburg as one of the best places in the U.S. to enjoy food and wine. Yet 20% of our population (predominantly the working poor), stand in line at the Healdsburg Food Pantry because they don’t have enough to eat. This lack of access to enough food is rising in Healdsburg—and it’s alarming. 

In September, the Healdsburg Food Pantry distributed food to 967 adults, 605 children and 66 seniors. In the winter months, the numbers jump up exponentially. But are there more hungry people in Healdsburg? What about the people who are too embarrassed to go to the Food Pantry? What about the elders who don’t have any transportation to the Food Pantry? What do they do?

What can we do to help end hunger in Healdsburg so that the most vulnerable members of our community have enough to eat? One suggestion is to donate to the Food Pantry, or like some volunteers did last Saturday, collect “high nutrient” food from Shelton’s Market for our in-need neighbors. “I was happy to donate three pounds of rice and oatmeal to the 450 pounds of food already collected for the Pantry,” notes Nancy Roberts, a long-time resident. If you’d like to help eliminate hunger in Healdsburg, call the Healdsburg Food Pantry at 433-3663 or visit to see what you can do. You can also drop off food at 1505 Healdsburg Ave. On November 8th the Pantry will host their 11th Annual Square Dance fundraiser. Big thanks to Kim & John Lloyd of Big John’s Market for donating food to the Pantry several times a week.

Free Community Festival Supporting Bo Mahoney Medical Fund

Combining her love of the arts, community-building and helping others in need, Jennifer Utsch, owner and chief artist of Jendala Medal Art Studio, is hosting her 10th Annual Open Studio on Sat., Nov. 8th, 12 to 8pm, 444 Moore St., behind Healdsburg’s City Hall. “Our festival is free, family-friendly and open to everyone,” notes Utsch. Along with live music, food, beer, and wine, there will be face painting, dance contests, children’s art activities, massage, a silent auction, a Chill Zone and live performance art by Neal Barbosa of Live Painter. 

Proceeds from the wine, food, silent auction and raffle, as well as a percentage of the artists’ sales, will directly benefit the Bo Mahoney Medical Fund. Bo, who was in the music industry, suffers from the affects of ALS, a neuromuscular disease commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. “We are honored to help my friend Bo while he and his family face this debilitating disease, and we hope the Healdsburg community comes out to join in the Festival fun while supporting a good cause,” says Utsch. For more information about the event, call Jenn at 707/431-1016 or visit For information about the Bo Mahoney Medical Fund, visit