Food Fare brings attention to women's health

The orange carpet welcomed attendees to the 34th Annual Food Fare, held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on Thursday. Guests experienced an exquisite array of the area’s best cuisines, up-and-coming chefs, distillers, and music. People arrived from all over Los Angeles, including local Santa Monica foodies and Planned Parenthood supporters.

The Planned Parenthood Los Angeles Guild, who has organized this event since its inception in 1979, is made up of 200 women dedicated to providing financial and volunteer support to Planned Parenthood, according to the PPLA Food Fare website.

Tickets to the fundraising event cost $150 for the daytime session and $225 for the evening session.

PPLA's director of public affairs Serena Josel said that the money raised from the event is disbursed throughout Planned Parenthood's 19 health centers in the Los Angeles area, plus the additional education programs provided for teens and parents throughout the county. Since the first Food Fare that featured chef Julia Child, the Guild has raised a little over $9 million.

The plates in the orange-lit auditorium ranged from fresh pine nut salads and brie-filled paninis, to mini-Korean steak tacos, spicy tuna rolls, red wine glazed fried chicken with pickled chilies, pork ribs, crab legs, and even Pink's hot dogs. Dessert was also present as tables were lined with mini cupcakes, raspberry-topped vanilla bean soufflé, and a red-and-white-striped sundae stand, complete with endless toppings, provided by Dandy Don's ice cream parlor.

Some of the vendors, such as Elixir G and The Sweet and Sour Chronicles, said that they were drawn to the event because of their support for Planned Parenthood.

Hadley Tomicki and Tatiana Arbogasd, writers for food blog "Grub Street," were also in attendance.

“I've been coming to this for four years,” said Arbogasd. “We support Planned Parenthood, and we’re foodies, so it’s perfect.”

“I’m here for both work and pleasure,” said Tomicki, who said she attends many similar events, but likes the charity aspect of Food Fare.

Josel, who has been with Planned Parenthood for eight years, said that the vendors are mostly chosen by the Guild members based off of their favorite restaurants.

“Our supporters are here, and since our supporters are usually more progressive, it goes hand-in-hand that they’re part of this new Cali wave of organic cooking,” said Josel.

As Josel passed out informational pamphlets to guests who walked in, protesters stood on the other side of the walkway holding up large, graphic signs of mutilated fetuses. The Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust stood outside the convention for both the day and evening sessions.

“We get them at every event,” said Josel. “We have been to a lot of red states for events; this is nothing.”

Josel said that when she was in high school and college, she appreciated the services Planned Parenthood provided her with, such as giving information about how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.

“Planned Parenthood helps you control things about yourself that you think you have control over, but you really don’t,” she said. “Patients get the information and care they need to live their best life.”

Planned Parenthood's preventive care “empowers people and provides them with the information to help them make the right choice,” according to Josel.

“There’s a health center in Santa Monica [that] college students can rely on,” said Josel, referring to the Planned Parenthood located on the Third Street Promenade. The services are free and confidential.

“Students should be aware that its doors are always open for them,” she said.