The Crowd: A bowl of soup, bit of lettuce served up at Second Harvest’s ‘No Lunch, Lunch’ event

Antonio Cagnolo, chef and restaurateur of Antonello Ristorante.
Antonio Cagnolo, chef and restaurateur of Antonello Ristorante, serves guests at Second Harvest food bank’s “No Lunch, Lunch.”
(Scott Tokar)

This was the real deal. A charity luncheon that served a very basic and low cost meal to some 275 supporters who came to raise funds to feed area citizens in need. It was the 39th “No Lunch, Lunch” created by the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County and held at the organization’s food distribution center in Irvine.

Chef and restaurateur Antonio Cagnolo, of Antonello Ristorante, prepared soup accompanied by a romaine salad (made from lettuce grown on Second Harvest’s Founders Farm) prepared by Bracken’s Kitchen. That was lunch. Nothing fancy. A metaphor meal reminding those who may not know the fear of food insecurity, how precious a bowl of soup and a bit of lettuce can be. The message was clear.

The event raised $152,621, which will allow many meals to be provided to many of the more than 330,000 estimated people in the O.C. that are served monthly by Second Harvest. The organization is working with partners including grocery stores, restaurants, food growers, and others in the food chain across the county providing “dignified, equitable and consistent access to nutritious food,” according to its website, improving the overall health of those in need and the entire community overall.

Harvesters supporting the “No Lunch, Lunch” were Selly Straight, Gail Haft and Kristie Caggiano.
(Scott Tokar)

Turning out in force for the gathering were an impressive list of dignitaries including U.S. Congress Rep. Young Kim and state Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris. Among the guests were Gina Arreola from the Disneyland Resort, Chris Calagna with City National Bank, Brian Dick with Golden State Foods, Karlie Harstad from Edwards Life Sciences, Fullerton Mayor Fred Jung, and state Sen. Dave Min.

Joe Schoenigh, from left, with Claudia Keller, Nicole Suydam, and Harald Herrmann.
Former Second Harvest Food Bank executive director Joe Schoenigh, from left, with Claudia Keller, current chief executive officer of SHFB, Nicole Suydam, chief executive officer of Goodwill of Orange County and Harald Herrmann, former chief executive officer of SHFB.
(Scott Tokar)

Front and center were Second Harvest activists Joe Schoenigh, former executive director and Dareen Khatib, along with members of the Newport Beach based Second Harvest Auxiliary know as the Harvesters — Sally Straight, Gail Haft, Erica Fink and Kristie Caggiano.

Meaningful youth advocacy

Here is another event story that is also the real deal. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) has been transforming juvenile lives in peril since 1985 in the O.C. This is no exaggeration. Their mission is to provide a powerful voice and legal advocacy for youth experiencing abuse, neglect and abandonment. CASA volunteers provide consistent intervention, protecting children in need of permanent, safe, healthy placement, support in school, and much more.

Sara Van Dusen, from left, joins Regan Phillips and event chair Sarah Minakary.
Event chair Sara Van Dusen, from left, joins Regan Phillips, chief executive officer of CASA O.C. and event chair Sarah Minakary.
(John Watkins)

As 2022 came to a close, Friends of CASA, known as FOCASA, a membership auxiliary, gathered for the group’s annual luncheon and fashion show produced by South Coast Plaza and featuring the designs of Lafayette 148 New York.

More than 400 guests joined the cause on the spectacular Riviera Lawn of Hotel VEA Newport Beach, overlooking the greens of Newport Beach Country Club with a view out to the Pacific Ocean. A tray passed champagne reception and massive silent auction with some 174 items up for bid, welcomed the crowd. Among those attending were Lucy Donahue, Sara and Chris Van Dusen, the Jacquie Glass family, Jaynine and Dave Warner, Ryan Clemons, Christy Flanagan, and Carie Jernquist-Ferry. Additional special guests were Holly Joseph, Joanne James, Danette Dye, Dana Strader (president of Friends of CASA), Janine Wald, Kimberly DeLamar Matties, CASA CEO Regan Dean Phillips, board chair Michael Wong, and the Hon. Craig Arthur, presiding judge of Orange County’s Juvenile Court.

Regina Oswald attends the CASA luncheon.
(John Watkins)

The keynote speakers were CASA volunteer Marie Crosson and her CASA youth, Amy. Marie and Amy shared a candid story about CASA completely changing the course of a youth’s life.

“Over time, I’ve learned from Marie that each of us can only control our own actions, not the actions of others, and how we choose to view and navigate each situation,” Amy said. “Our relationship has fundamentally impacted how I navigate my world.”

Lauren Wong and Barclay Butera at the CASA event that raised $620,000.
(John Watkins)

Marie concluded their talk by saying, “I want to brag about where Amy is today. This full-time college student is studying business, and also working about 25 hours a week. And she’s always got some side gig going. I could not be prouder of her … but I’m also not surprised by her success. Because of her own life experiences, she’s developed so many of the personal characteristics linked to long-term success … courage, tenacity, resilience, a work ethic and maybe most of all, she thinks big.”

Co-chaired by two dynamic ladies, Sarah Minakary and Sara Van Dusen, the event raised an impressive $620,000 for CASA. Since its founding more than $6 million has been donated for its children advocacy programs.

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