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West Sacramento News-Ledger

Yolo Food Bank Holds Successful Global Rice Fest Founders Night

Nov 03, 2023 10:56AM ● By Yolo Food Bank News Release

Group photo of attendees at Global Rice Fest Founders Night. Photo courtesy of Yolo Food Bank

WOODLAND, CA (MPG) - Conaway Ranch was set aglow on the evening of October 13, as over 200 guests gathered for the highly anticipated Global Rice Fest Founders Night. Hosted by Yolo Food Bank in partnership with the City of Woodland and The Food Front, and with the founding sponsorship of Conaway Preservation Group and supporting sponsorships from Nugget Markets and Visit Woodland, the event offered a glimpse into the festival planned for 2024.

The Global Rice Fest Founders Night gathered guests from varied backgrounds including leaders from the rice, food, and agricultural industries, higher education leaders, farmers, elected officials, Yolo Food Bank board members, donors, volunteers, and community members. The night featured global music entertainment along with mouthwatering rice dishes from the following featured chefs: Chef Santana Diaz, UC Davis Health; Chef Craig Takehara, Binchoyaki; Chef Juan Barajas, Savory Café; Chef Greg Desmangles, Urban Roots and Chef Gene Hall from Preserve. Along with great food, the event showcased global music and entertainment featuring the UC Davis student-run Taiko drummers, Bakuhatsu Taiko Dan.

toast featured chefs Global Rice Fest Karen Baker Gene Hall Craig Takehara Greg Desmangles Santana Diaz Juan Barajas

Photo of toast to featured chefs at Global Rice Fest Founders Night event. From left to right, Executive Director of Yolo Food Bank Karen Baker; Chef Gene Hall, Preserve; Chef/Owner Craig Takehara, Binchoyaki; Chef Greg Desmangles, Urban Roots; Chef Santana Diaz, UC Davis Health; Chef/Owner Juan Barajas, Savory Café. Photo courtesy of Yolo Food Bank

“We are so grateful to all of the generous sponsors, in-kind donors, and chefs that made this event a joyful celebration,” noted Karen Baker, executive director of Yolo Food Bank. She added, “Rice is a staple food bank product and a highly desired item by our families from diverse cultures.”

Conaway Preservation Group, the founding sponsor of the night, has been partnering with Yolo Food Bank for over a decade. It was noted during the event that the idea to donate rice to Yolo Food Bank was sparked when Angelo Tsakopoulos, one of the region’s most widely recognized philanthropists and benefactors, and the late Jack DeWit, Yolo County Deputy Agricultural Commissioner at the time, sat down and sketched the partnership on the back of a paper napkin.

Woodland City Manager Ken Hiatt CEO Conaway Preservation Group Kyriakos Tsakopoulos Karen Baker Yolo Food Bank

Recognition awards presentation. From left to right, City of Woodland City Manager Ken Hiatt, President & CEO of Conaway Preservation Group Kyriakos Tsakopoulos, and Yolo Food Bank Executive Director Karen Baker. Photo courtesy of Yolo Food Bank

 “Our enduring partnership with Yolo Food Bank that began more than a decade ago is taking off to new heights thanks to the Global Rice Fest which Conaway Preservation Group is proud to be founding sponsors of,” said President & CEO of Conaway Preservation Group Kyriakos Tsakopoulos. “We are providing a four-year sponsorship as it continues to expand into a two-day event in the coming year. At Conaway Ranch, our tenants are not only generous farmers, but also stewards of the environment and the wildlife supported here, making us a fitting backdrop for a celebration of rice, a crop that nurtures both people and nature.”

 The Global Rice Fest Founders Night served as a launching pad for sponsors, industry leaders, and community leaders to come together around a shared vision for 2024. Next year, the Global Rice Fest is planned for October 4-5, and will feature a Sponsors Night at Conaway Ranch on the first night, and a family festival the following day.

 “Day two of the Global Rice Fest is set to be a family event, and will be held at the Woodland Community College’s new Culinary and Performing Arts space thanks to the generosity of Yuba Community College District,” said City of Woodland’s City Manager Ken Hiatt. “Most of the nation’s rice is grown right here in our backyards; it’s economic impact is global and we are happy to be celebrating the cultures around the world that rely on this important food source, all while supporting those that are food insecure here in Yolo County.”

The 2024 Global Rice Fest will showcase the best of Yolo County as the region continues to build on the farm-to-fork festivities. Interested sponsors should contact Maria Segoviano, Yolo Food Bank’s director of development and communications, at [email protected].

Yolo Food Bank partners with Feeding America, a national non-profit with a network of more than 200 food banks, and annually serves the nutritional needs of more than 21,000 Yolo County residents through 140+ distributions events and via their 80+ partner agencies which include local food pantries, senior meal delivery programs, homeless and domestic violence shelters, migrant centers, college campuses, mental health facilities, recovery centers, and more. Working with a network of passionate volunteers, committed donors, grocers, retailers, farmers, processors and food distributors, Yolo Food Bank recovers, stores, and distributes more than eight million pounds of food each year.



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