Arts Listings

‘Food for Thought’ Performance Benefits County Food Bank

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Thursday May 07, 2009 - 06:24:00 PM

Food For Thought: Laughing All the Way to the (Food) Bank,” a benefit for the Alameda County Community Food Bank, will be held at 8 p. m. this Saturday at the Julia Morgan Center. The performance will feature “homegrown” comedians Johnny Steel, W. Kamau Bell, Richard Stockton and David Pokorney; a guest speaker panel entitled, “If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get in the Kitchen! A Discussion of Food and Climate Change”; a clip from host Clark Taylor’s forthcoming documentary Deep Green, and a raffle,  

Food For Thought coincides with the 17th Annual National Association of Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, for which postal patrons can leave a box or bag with nonperishable food by a home or business mailbox Saturday morning for pickup by one of the more than 7,500 letter carriers in the Bay Area, who will transport the food to a collection box at a post office (140 participating in the Bay Area), hence to the local food bank. It’s the largest food drive in the nation. Last year, in Alameda County alone, 140,000 pounds of food was collected. 

This year, there’s even more need than last, due to the economic crisis. Calls to food banks have doubled in the past two years.  

“We’ve crossed the threshold that separates hard times from a hunger epidemic,” said Suzan Bateson of the Alameda County Community Food Bank. Brian Higgins, ACCFB Communications Manager, noted, “The statistics are off the charts. In March, the first or second lowest month for demand, normally, the record for the worst previous year were shattered by 21 percent. Thirty-five percent of the calls were from people who never used a food bank before—the freshly-minted hungry. Some had personal situations that had gone from great to zero. Often, they were two normally working parents supporting kids now on just one salary or none.”  

The benefit is produced by Whole Foods and Clark Taylor, with all proceeds going to ACCFB. 

“It’s a really unique way of raising awareness,” Higgins said. “It’s no laughing matter, normally, as an issue. But just because it’s serious doesn’t mean we have to always be serious about it. No reason saving the planet and feeding the hungry can’t be funny! Laughter gets the synapses sparking. It’s important people approach this problem creatively, as we’re now entering uncharted territory.”  

Johnny Steel, a performer and contributor to comedy websites, is from Berkeley. W. Kamau Bell—whose “The W. Kamau Bell Curve” was an election-year highlight—is founder of the Solo Performance Workshop in San Francisco. Richard Stockton has been a national comedy headliner and writes, produces and hosts Planet Cruz, a syndicated radio and Internet variety show from Santa Cruz. David Pokorney toured as a comic for 10 years; he’s now a worker at Whole Foods.  

Panelists, moderated by Betsy Rosenberg of Eco Talk from Green 960, include Helge Hellberg, executive director of Marin Organic; Greg Steltonpohl, founder of Odwalla and CEO of Adina; and Carmen Tedesco of Slow Food, San Francisco.  

The raffle features food baskets and discounts for local businesses, and can be entered with a nonperishable food item or $2 per ticket (three for $5). 

All proceeds from door and raffle go to the Alameda County Community Food Bank. The event is not affiliated with any business entitled Food For Thought.  



A benefit for Alameda County Community Food Bank. 8 p.m. Saturday at Julia Morgan Center, 2640 College Ave. $15.