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June 22, 1995|LEO SMITH

Rita Pisani, owner of Amelio's Italian restaurant in Ventura, was presented with an award of merit from Food Share earlier this month for donating to the Ventura County food bank.

Since the food bank began picking up leftover food from county restaurants about two years ago, Pisani has been a regular contributor. In fact, not only does she donate unused food, but she also prepares food specifically for those in need.

"What Rita does is take money from her own pocket, buys the ingredients and makes three [25-pound] containers of soup every Wednesday night," said Caresse Santana, coordinator of Food Share's Ready Prepared Meals Program.

Through the program, Food Share delivers 8,000 pounds of surplus food each month to organizations such as the Salvation Army, Rescue Mission, and homes for adults and children. The food is collected from 57 restaurants, hotels, hospitals, caterers and pizzerias in the county.

"We have been feeding the homeless every single day since we began the restaurant six years ago," Pisani said. "There's a community here that needs help, and God has blessed us a little more than others. We will continue doing this until it is no longer needed."

In addition to her weekly donations, Pisani also has free Christmas Eve dinners for the hungry.

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Regular diners at the Olive Garden Italian Restaurant in Oxnard may have noticed a few new faces there over the last few months. Since April, the restaurant has hired a new general manager and three new managers. A fourth manager is expected to be hired soon.

Ray Scott, the new GM, said customers can expect the restaurant to remain the same, despite the change of staff. Scott previously held the general manager position at the Olive Garden in Bakersfield.

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Executive chef Robert Garcia of Capistrano's Restaurant at Oxnard's Mandalay Beach Resort will be Chef of the Month at the Channel Islands Harbor Farmers Market on Sunday. Garcia, with assistance from Capistrano's banquet chef, Gregory Jolliff, will present a cooking demonstration.

Although the Farmers Market has been operating since mid-April, Saturday will be its "Grand Opening Gala," with ice carving, musical entertainment and free food samples. The market is at Harbor Landing, 2810 S. Harbor Blvd., Channel Islands Harbor. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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