Food Fare raises funds for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles

Jessica Goin sliced into sandwiches filled with Burrata cheese, young broccoli, pine nuts, and currants that she was serving at a booth for her sister’s newest restaurant, The Larder at Maple Drive. Wearing a shirt that said “Love Carefully,” a new slogan for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, she spoke with as much passion about the restaurant’s organic, sustainable ingredients from Flora Bella Farms as she did about her cause. Along with many chefs, vendors and volunteers, Goin was at the 33rd Annual Planned Parenthood Food Fare, a fundraising event to benefit PPLA, last Thursday at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

“I just think it’s such an important cause,” said Goin. “Planned Parenthood gets such a bad rap from Republicans, but they put so much time, energy and resources into helping and protecting young women.”

Together, the daytime and evening sessions of the event attracted over 1,200 “foodies” and Planned Parenthood supporters, and raised close to $900,000 for PPLA, according to Serena Josel, director of public affairs for PPLA.

“All of these funds go directly into health care and education programs,” said Josel.

Food Fare has benefitted Planned Parenthood since it was first created 33 years ago by the PPLA Guild, a Planned Parenthood support group consisting of about 200 volunteers, according to Guild president Marcy Pine.

“When you get a group of like-minded women in a room, they can create miracles,” said Pine. “And to me, this is a miracle.”

“We started with Julia Child,” said Pine. “She was the one who did the first food demonstration. And it’s just terribly exciting how it’s grown. Three years ago, we started honoring high-profile chefs.

Goin’s sister, Suzanne Goin, chef and owner of Los Angeles restaurants A.O.C., Lucques, Tavern, and The Larder at Maple Drive, was honored at the event as Planned Parenthood’s Chef of the Year.

Rick Royce, owner of Rick Royce Premier BBQ Catering, has participated in the event for over 25 years.

“We enjoy helping out the charity and meeting all the other restaurateurs,” said Royce. “We love to please people with our product, and hopefully we get business from it.”

Alain Cohen, owner of Got Kosher, described event patrons as “interesting, creative, and more progressive than average.”

Over 200 local restaurants, coffee shops, caterers, and wineries participated in the event, including La Provence Patisserie & Café, Michael’s Restaurant, El Cholo Restaurant, Clementine, Caffe Luxxe, FOOD, Lago, D’Caché, and Casa Torelli Imports & Italian Wines, among many others.

“We’ve been helping Planned Parenthood with this for almost 12 years,” said Max Bonilla, executive chef of catering company Parties Plus. “It’s really a very noble cause. We are glad we are here.”

In addition to the culinary creations and services donated to the event, items such as handmade jewelry, art, ties, handbags, and clothing were sold by numerous vendors. Thirty percent of vendor sales were donated to PPLA.

Food Fare's Raffle 4 Choice featured donated prizes such as Paris vacations and wine country getaways. "Love Carefully" shirts, created for Planned Parenthood by clothing designers Velvet by Graham & Spencer, were sold at the event.

The Guild subcommittee “Made with Love” sold mostly handmade pieces, such as whimsical princess wands, tiaras and tutus, as well as gently used donated items.

All proceeds from sales of raffle tickets, “Love Carefully” shirts, and “Made with Love” items were donated to PPLA. Ticket prices for the event ranged between $150 and $250, with 100 percent of those funds also going directly to PPLA.

A sparse crowd of anti-abortion protesters gathered outside the event, carrying graphic signs denouncing Planned Parenthood.

“I want to protest for the children who don’t have a voice,” said Margarita Gonzales, one of the protesters.

“People have differing views regarding abortion and I respect their right to disagree,” said Josel. “That said, I do wish that all of us—on both sides of the abortion debate—could work together to improve access to sex education and contraception, so that we can reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion.”

While some Planned Parenthood locations do perform abortions, according to a press release, 93 percent of services performed in clinics are preventative. These reproductive health services, largely geared toward low-income women who would not otherwise have access to care, include breast and cervical cancer screenings, STD testing, annual exams, treatment for abnormal results, vaccinations, and birth control.

“For most of the students that we serve, services are totally free,” said Josel.

The Santa Monica Planned Parenthood health center is located at 1136 3rd Street Promenade #201.

“What people should know about Planned Parenthood is women’s reproductive health, stopping the teen pregnancy epidemic, self-esteem for women, and peer counseling for teenage girls,” said Jessica Goin. “The management skills they’re learning that they can take on to businesses—that have nothing to do with sex—are incredible.”