Atascadero Loaves and Fishes, also known as ALF, is an inspiring example of the powerful impact a highly organized non-profit agency with hard-working volunteers can have in its community – and that for more than 30 years!
The most essential part is ALF’s food pantry which holds groceries and other household items that volunteers give out to those in need from Atascadero, Templeton, Santa Margarita, Creston and the California Valley.
However, the influence of this rather inconspicuously looking facility goes way beyond just the distribution of food. The team of committed volunteers has created an extensive support network whose remarkable impact shows not only in the well-established day-to-day flow but also in the trusted connections with their clients.
Every person who walks through the door gets a chance to talk to a volunteer in a private setting to express personal concerns or special requests. “This interview was put in place to benefit our clients. We update their financial and family information, make notes on their disability or veteran status and simply ask how they are doing. Anything we know that might help them, we try to share,” said Kathleen Aragon who has been working with ALF for five years. She was originally asked to volunteer due to her bilingual skills and has since then become an integral part in taking care of the daily visitors. She continued to explain in more detail, “We tell them about locations to get a free, hot meal or a free shower close to their home. We hand out vouchers for clothing, including items for children and job interviews, that can be used at nearby thrift stores. We also have vouchers for propane. People over 60 get information about the senior nutrition education at the senior centers. We make them aware of additional food distributions that are operated by the SLO Food Bank. We also inform them about places that offer free flu shots. If someone is looking for housing and job opportunities, we connect them to the ECHO shelter. And we also remind them to call 211 whenever they need support.”
It is exactly this mindset of combining efforts that successfully connects people to all the resources that their community makes available for them in timesof need.
» Read more about: A Day with Atascadero Loaves & Fishes »
We got really excited when the County of San Luis Obispo asked us about filming a recipe video for Thanksgiving in our facility!
Our decision quickly fell on an easy-to-make, sweet and savory recipe that will come in handy when you’re trying to figure out what to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers. You can use canned cranberry sauce and cooked turkey in this recipe. To make it extra healthy and wholesome, add chopped fresh seasonal vegetables. This dish will definitely warm you up on a cold, rainy day! Enjoy!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 to 2 hours
3 cups of cooked turkey, chopped into chunks
1 can whole cranberry sauce
2 cans of beans (black, pinto, kidney, white or a combination), drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup white diced onion
3 ½ tablespoons chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic salt
3 cups tomato sauce
¾ cup salsa
Sour cream (optional)
In a large saucepan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of butter and onion. Sauté until onion is translucent and tender. Add turkey and stir together. Then, add all of the following: tomato sauce, salsa, cranberry sauce, chili seasoning, garlic salt, white kidney beans, and black beans. Mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for an hour, stirring occasionally. Simmer for up to 2 hours.
» Read more about: From The Food Bank Kitchen: Cranberry Turkey Chili »
Recently, I met with Ryan Caldwell, CEO of Wacker Wealth Partners, at his new office space on Broad Street in San Luis Obispo. Ryan and I chatted about Wacker Wealth’s recent move and the fact that we are now neighbors. Wacker Wealth Partners is in a beautiful building just down the street from us near the San Luis Obispo County Airport.
Our visit that day was an opportunity to catch Ryan up on changes at the Food Bank. Ryan asked some great questions about the food needs in SLO County. We discussed the number of people needing food assistance. Many people are not aware that 1 in 6 individuals in our county are food insecure. We talked about the many volunteers that quietly help with this need and how this work slips by under the radar. I feel the best way for people understand about the scope of work the Food Bank does is to have them come and see for themselves. I invited Ryan to visit our warehouse.
Some people think about a Food Bank and visualize a food pantry that hands out boxes of food to people who knock on the door. When people visit our 20,000 square foot warehouse with 3 tiers of racking and a refrigerator and freezer that take up the whole back wall, they begin to understand that this is a big operation. After watching dozens of volunteers put together food bags for distributions and seeing some of our over 80 Agency Partners picking up food to cook or hand out, everyone realizes that it takesmany people working together to fight hunger.
» Read more about: Wacker Wealth Partners Believes In Community Involvement »
As we enter into the holiday season, we want to thank all of our community partners, volunteers and service providers who help us alleviate hunger in San Luis Obispo County.
We are working on ways to show our volunteers just how much we appreciate their hard work. This month we would like to highlight one of our distribution sites at Grace Baptist Church in Paso Robles.
This site runs on the third Thursday of every month from 9:00 to 10:00 am. Pictured here are two of our dedicated volunteers who you can find there almost every month – Jennifer Bravo and Rosario Cano.
Jen Bravo has been volunteering at the Grace Baptist distribution for over 3 years. Her involvement with the Food Bank started when she was looking for ways to get her children engaged in community service. They began volunteering during our All-Ages Saturday Volunteering, and she continued with events like our Hunger Awareness Day. Eventually she was asked to be a site leader and has been working the Grace Baptist distribution ever since. She says that distribution day is one of her favorite days of the month; she loves interacting with the people, and being part of an organization that does so much for our community.
Rosario Cano had previously been a volunteer and a participant with the Food Bank about 20 years ago; she recalls being at sites at 5:00am to put together bags for participants. She took a break from volunteering with the Food Bank as she became busy with work and raising her family. Then about a year ago, an injury left her unable to return to work. She began looking for ways to use her time to give back to the community, and became involved with the Promotores Collaborative of San Luis Obispo. The Promotores volunteer for the Food Bank throughout the county. Today, Rosario is not only a regular volunteer at our Grace Baptist distribution, but can be found working at Virginia Peterson, Paso Robles Senior Center, and many others.
» Read more about: Volunteer Spotlight: Jennifer Bravo and Rosario Cano »