Summerland IS Beautiful… And Summerland is NOT a Food Desert

By Montecito Journal   |   July 11, 2023

Summerland is a unique blend of small-town charm, a vibrant mix of locally-owned stores and restaurants, and an outdoor paradise. Ocean views abound from every street. 

We are a close-knit and welcoming community. Our town exudes a friendly and neighborly spirit. We support each other in crisis.  

We are NOT a food desert. We do not fit the definition of low access or low income. We have close proximity to grocery stores which carry healthy and affordable food, to include Vons (3.2 miles), Smart & Final (5.5 miles), Albertsons (6 miles), and a local mini mart. 

The average poverty rate for California is 12%, while Summerland is only 6%. Summerland has easy transit access to freeways, public bus, train, bike paths, and walkways.

To claim Summerland is a food desert undermines the needs of those communities that are truly food deserts. 

Citizens of Summerland represent a diverse mix of persons raised here and persons migrating here for the beauty of the town. We are proud to be citizens here. We are an eclectic mix of old and new, with diverse economic and career paths, but common in our sense of community and pride. We have worked hard to afford to live here.

We support each other and our community. We work together to keep our beach and community clean. We refuse to be defined by the exploitation of a singular, uncharacteristic event from the tragic 2018 mudslides. We are defined by being a community of first responders, who also fed first responders during this time.

Like every community, we have those who have times of need and we work to support them. We also recognize communities that have much greater needs than ours. We support those communities, and we would never take for granted our collective privilege.

Besides pride in our community, we have gratitude. We recognize living in Summerland offers a unique blend of natural beauty, stores that hold national recognition, and a strong sense of community. Summerland’s stunning surroundings, coupled with a wide array of recreational activities, create an unrivaled living experience. We, the citizens of Summerland, embrace the enchanting attributes of our community and find ourselves in a coastal paradise that is truly second to none. 

Standing together, 

Concerned Citizens

Note from the writer: 

I wrote the article “It Takes a Food Desert” that published in the Montecito Journal the week of June 26. That article contained a strong inference that Summerland is in fact a USDA-designated food desert. It is not, according to the technical definition of a food desert as defined by the USDA. Cantwell’s, Summerland’s only supermarket, did leave Summerland in 2017, as stated. The article further mentions that 36 percent of Summerland’s properties are “low income.” This is also inaccurate. AffordableHousingOnline states that 32% of Summerland’s renters are Overburdened. I believe at some point in the past, that figure was misunderstood to refer to low-income housing in Summerland. I regret the article’s mischaracterizations. I personally adore Summerland. I also believe a community farm is a boon to any town. 

Jeff Wing  


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