Here is the year in the life of the Food Bank Coalition in two quick stories. Thanks to all who made it possible by their stewardship of time and talent and to our gracious donors who act in furtherance of our mission.
At a community leadership meeting this Fall, someone asked what would happen if the Food Bank Coalition went away. A leader from Atascadero Loaves and Fishes raised his hand and said, “We don’t get all of our food from the Food Bank Coalition. We do some grocery rescue on our own and we accept some restaurant donations.”
He continued, “But what we get from them is dependability. The Food Bank Coalition provides assurance to us that we will have reliable access to top quality food. This evens out our offerings and ensures we can operate on a near daily basis to provide for hunger relief needs in our local community.”
At a spring food distribution in south county a family walked away with a 15-pound bag of healthy shelf stable product and a 15-pound bag of fresh produce. The mother said to one of the volunteers, “This is great. Tonight we will have our choice of what to eat for dinner.”
The breadth of our impact this year can be summed up in the fact that we take advantage of our coalition nature to bring dignity to those who have limited choices in placing food on the table for their families.
» Read more about: 2018 Year in Review »
“Don’t forget our Christmas party on December 15,” shouts Nancy Glowski as another person walks away with a shopping cart full of food. Nancy, who has lived in this area off and on for the past 24 years, knows everyone personally. She got very well acquainted with being the reference person when she was running her own grocery store and restaurant. Now she volunteers for the SLO Food Bank and spreads information about the food distributions through word of mouth.
Twice a month, one of our warehouse workers drives 90 minutes to deliver food to this remote distribution site within a community of 300 people. Usually more than 50 of them show up to pick up the fresh produce, meat, bread and shelf-stable items. Not everybody can make it today, though. It’s December and many residents cannot drive on the streets that have been flooded with mud after recent rainfalls. But thanks to Nancy, they will still be able to receive the help they need. “This is a wonderful community, and I love everyone of them,” she says joyfully as she fills her car with food items that she will later deliver to her home-bound neighbors’ houses.
Two of the first people waiting in line are Richard and Carol with their dog Buddy. The couple first started to use this community support twenty years ago when they had just moved here from the bay area to live closer to her parents. Both of them remember that the initial distributions were held inside the library building. Nowadays the food is handed out next to Food Bank truck outside where Richard and Carol still thankfully accept their share. “The Food Bank has helped us tremendously over the years,” states Carol who always hopes for bread since she knows many dishes she can make with it. “We especially appreciate the support during the holidays because we are able to feed our whole family from the food we receive.”
A little while later, a young man with a radiant smile on his face appears. His name is Skylar and he is very excited to tell everyone about his big plans for the upcoming new year. “I want to become a fire fighter or police officer,” pronounces the 18-year old proudly who is already taking night classes to pursue his dreams. He was born in this area and has helped fight some of the local fires that have occurred recently, but his ambitions are spurring him on to go to Fresno, San Luis Obispo or Santa Maria. But for now, he has come here to supply his parents with healthier food options.
» Read more about: Holiday Spirit in the California Valley »
Four times a month, residents in and around Nipomo have a chance to receive food from one of our distribution sites at St. Joseph’s Church, Nipomo Elementary, the Senior Center and Dana Elementary.
If you attend the distribution on the first Tuesday of the month at St. Joseph’s Church, you might run into a doppelgänger of Santa Claus. His real name is David and he gets this nickname from all children that told him his beard makes him look like the legendary Christmas figure.
For 25 years, David actually used to be a Food Bank volunteer during food distributions in Nipomo that started in the early 90’s. Back then, the food was given out inside the church. Nowadays he no longer volunteers, but still comes back every month to talk to people and get his share.
“Whenever I get tomatoes and onions, I give them to my youngest daughter because she likes to make salsa on the hot side,” explains the 78-year old. The retired electrician was originally born in Iowa but relocated to California in 1974 when his family, including his grandparents and two uncles, moved here. His three daughters still live in the area, though David himself lives alone. He keeps himself busy with going to the library where he reads many California newspapers like the Los Angeles Times or the San Francisco Chronicle to stay up to date on current events.
» Read more about: Santa Claus at St. Joseph’s Church in Nipomo »
“We have never missed a night,” proclaims main coordinator Linda Fidell proudly while her team is setting up tables for another community meal on a Monday night. “No matter if it’s Christmas or New Year’s Eve* – we are here and serve dinner to the hungry!”
For more than five years, the Morro Bay Lion’s Club and 6 other non-profits have cooked meals for everyone in need, and have since then served over 17,500 guests. What initially started as an undertaking by caring people to feed the homeless population in Lila Keiser Park, has evolved into a well-established tradition at the Morro Bay Veteran’s Hall.
“Our clients now come from very interesting demographic backgrounds. Most of them are not homeless, but belong to the working poor, are seniors or individuals that live in their cars or on boats,” explains volunteer Ray McKelvey.
On some nights, they get over 100 guests. Tonight, the star item on the buffet is lamb that has been donated to the SLO Food Bank during the California Mid-State Fair and then distributed to agency partners. Linda’s husband cooked it after a special recipe with herbs and spices that he learned from his mother in Egypt.
Considering the amount of people attending the dinner, the atmosphere in the hall is surprisingly serene and calm with a hint of peace and warmth in the air. Tables on the other side of the room are stacked up with community donations (clothing, toiletries, dog food among others) and shelf-stable items that the SLO Food Bank provides. Guests are able to take home whatever they need. In the back corner of the room a man named Freddy Gleason plays the piano. People are chatting quietly. Many of them come back every Monday, not just for the food, but also to see their friends and enjoy some camaraderie.
» Read more about: Community Dinner Served on Mondays »