Month: April 2019

Senior Farmers Markets: Opening Access to Precious Produce

It’s always been a fair measure of a community to see how we care for our most vulnerable among us. Seniors all face a decline in some aspect of their independence as years go by.

For many seniors in San Luis Obispo County the advance of years can lead to a growing sense of isolation, especially among the home-bound.

Here’s where programs like the Food Bank Coalitions’s Senior Farmer’s Markets (SFM) can help create community within senior housing.

One goal of SFMs is to make available the fruits and vegetables which are recommended for keeping us healthy as we age. And for seniors living on a fixed income, eating healthy can actually present a financial hardship as they choose between covering basic needs like housing and healthier food which often costs more.

At eight sites around the county, SFMs connect low-income seniors with fresh fruits and vegetables in senior housing complexes.

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16 Reasons Why We Feed SLO County

Because we are a county community who believes that each day everyone should have something healthy to eat.

This is why we feed SLO County.

Because we respect our elders by making sure seniors have enough food to eat.

This is why we feed SLO County.

Because we care for our youth by giving kids enough energy to learn in school.

This is why we feed SLO County.

Because housing, transportation, and health care put the squeeze on working families.

This is why we feed SLO County.

Because half of the food we distribute is healthy fresh fruits and vegetables.

This iswhy we feed SLO County.

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The Farm Bill: What Does It Mean To The Food Bank Coalition?

Our mission here at the SLO Food Bank Coalition is to alleviate hunger and build a healthier community. 46,000 residents in the San Luis Obispo County struggle with hunger and everyday make the difficult choice between buying food or other necessities. 1 in 6 households are food insecure, including children, home-bound individuals, senior citizens and many members of the veteran community.

The Farm Bill is the primary federal legislation for the agriculture, farming, food and nutrition in the United States of America. It impacts the well-being of millions of people who struggle to put food on their plates since most of this bill’s funding is utilized on food subsidies. The Farm Bill programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) help provide food to the community and that is where the Food Bank comes into the picture – the Food Bank helps in operating these programs.

SNAP (CalFresh): SNAP in California is known as CalFresh and is the largest food program in California. It provides food benefits to families and individuals with low-income and helps them in purchasing nutritious food from the grocery store or a farmers’ market. The Food Bank has an internal Calfresh Outreach Program to help connect people who qualify for this resource and can benefit from it.

TEFAP: This program provides food to low-income families and individuals via food banks in partnership with the USDA. Through TEFAP, we hold 52 monthly public food distributions serving 5000-6000 individuals throughout San Luis Obispo County.

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Our Teen Farmers Market Helps Feed Food Insecure Youth

Teen food insecurity is on the rise and threatening American youth and their well-being. According to a report by the Urban Institute research group in collaboration with Feeding America, a nonprofit hunger organization, an estimated 6.8 million youth between the ages of 10-17 years are facing food insecurity. Teenage years are vulnerable and critical in shaping an individual’s future. Being food insecure can have serious ramifications, especially on teenagers as they navigate their way into adulthood. Out of the 46,000 residents in San Luis Obispo who are struggling with hunger, 40% are children and teens.

Having a monthly Teen Farmers Market at the Lopez High School in Arroyo Grande is how we work to alleviate hunger for this extremely vulnerable population. Lopez High School is a continuation high school and is recognized for its programs that offer a safe environment for at-risk students to succeed. The school offers independent study programs to support pregnant and teen parents and even has on-site day care.

Every month, we hold a teen farmer’s market at the school where the students can choose various fruits and vegetables to take home with them. On January 18th, 2019 we distributed different fruits and vegetables, including oranges, pears, spinach, and radishes. We also had the chance to interview the students who shared recipes they try from the food they choose from the market. They also expressed how it helps them save a trip to the grocery store. To continue our efforts in providing convenience in healthy living for these teens, we hold nutrition education classes on various topics like eating healthy on a budget and many more. We also offer cooking classes to assist in developing important life skills. One of our former Dietetic Interns from Cal Poly, Alyssa Los, taught a class to young parents on infant nutrition which was very well-received and immensely appreciated. A former intern from Atascadero State Hospital Program, Emily Montemayor, held a classon “Eating the Rainbow”, which included a cooking activity.

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