Month: September 2019

Our 30th Anniversary Celebration

People are in need for two reasons: Either decisions they’ve made or circumstances beyond their control. In either instance, hunger should not be the price they have to pay. That’s why the Food Bank Coalition, it’s non-profit agency partners, donors, volunteers and advocates have been working relentlessly for 30 years to alleviate hunger in SLO County and build a healthier community. As we came together on Friday, September 20, 2019, to celebrate our county’s response to hunger relief efforts, some members of our community had a chance to express their thoughts on the impact that we make every single day. We have compiled the words that were spoken to ensure that they continue to echo out into our county.

“The Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County helps us with the social determinants of health which encompasses health education and work in the community to assure that the systems that provide food security – one of the main sustainers of life and quality existence – continue to exist.” – Dr. Penny Borenstein, Director of Public Health

“The Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County operates from a mission to alleviate hunger in this county for a healthier community. On behalf of the California state assembly, the state senate, assemblyman Jordan Cunningham and senator Bill Monning, congratulations to the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County for celebrating its 30th year serving the constituents in the community of San Luis Obispo County.” – Keilah Smith and Annie Frew, Office of Jordan Cunnningham, Office of Bill Monning

“It is just amazing what has been accomplished over 30 years. It couldn’t have happened without the donors, the volunteers, and the local farmers in this county who are always ready to supply fresh produce and healthy food to the community, not only for people in need but also for all the other non-profits that work across the county. They all are a very large part of what makes this county such a unique place to live.” – Debbie Arnold, Chair of the Board of Supervisors

“It’s a common misconception that the Food Bank Coalition is a government-funded operation that just cruises along. In reality we rely on donations. About 75% of our operational funds come from donors that help us fund our operations. We spend about $200,000 per month, so it is a big obligation for us to go through and manage that over time. For those of you who contribute your time and your money, we want to say thank you.” – Steve Davis, Board President of the Food Bank Coalition

“Serving our community is critical, and the impact we have on others is the most important thing for us at the Community Foundation. In working with the Food Bank Coalition, we can touch lives every day. A good friend of mine recently started volunteering at the Children’s Farmers Market in Paso Robles. She was helping the elementary school children when she noticed a little girl that seemed a little hesitant. My friend said, “Would you like some apples to put in your back?” The little girl answered, “That would be great. I love apples!” As the girl opened up her backpack, she pulled out her lunch so that it wouldn’t get crushed, but all she had was just a little bag filled with only four crackers and one cookie. That was supposed to be her lunch! If it hadn’t been for the Food Bank Coalition, that little girl would have had four crackers and a little cookie for lunch. That is the kind of impact the Food Bank Coalition has every single day.” – Heidi McPherson, CEO of Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County

“The Food Bank Coalition is a lot more than just food. It’s this entire building, it’s the people who support the distribution process, it’s the trucks, it’s the staff who manage volunteers and make the food available to over 77 different non-profit partners and it’s the special programs that the Food Bank Coalition sponsors. “ – Jim Sargen, Philanthropist

“We are one of those non-profits that the Food Bank Coalition partners with. Our partnership goes way back, and it is a vital part of our existence. We run a senior nutrition program that changed their name to Meals That Connect about three years ago because it more clearly describes what we do. We don’t just deliver food to seniors; we connect with them and give them a chance to socialize. We serve approximately 1,600 individuals countywide. We deliver free, nutritious meals every day to homebound seniors and we also provide dining at our eleven dining sites throughout the county. Our partnership is dependent on the regular distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables from the Food Bank Coalition. We also get to use the meat from the California State Fair which means beef, pork and lamb get to go onto our menus. We are also an outlet for the Food Bank Coalition to distribute fresh produce and bread at our dining sites to seniors.” – Juliane McAdam, Meals that Connect

“It has been a pleasure for the Promotores to attend at the Food Bank Coalition distributions at five sites – three in Paso Robles, one in Shandon and one in San Miguel. We create trust and provide education to the Latino community. We share the importance of eating healthy to prevent chronic diseases and we share smiles so that they feel welcome. We also provide recipes that are cultural appropriate for this specific group. Something I have observed is that the Latinos feel ashamed and often do not want to take away food from other families. We tell them that we have plenty of food available and that it is there for them to come and use it.” – Erica Ruvalcaba-Heredia, Director of Promotores Collaborative of SLO County

“As farmers, we are committed to changing the lives of our employees, our customers and our community by providing fresh produce and encouraging healthy eating habits. It is our desire that as many people as possible reap the benefits of consuming daily more fresh fruits and vegetables. We understand that getting enough fresh produce isn’t always the reality for the needy in our community and we don’t want lack of resources to prevent folks from engaging in healthy eating habits. We are honored and proud of our partnership with the Food Bank Coalition over the last several years providing them with fresh fruits and vegetables on a weekly basis. And we are so thankful for the work of the Food Bank Coalition. Our hope is that by providing this fresh produce to Food Bank Coalition customers they will continue to pursue these healthy eating habits once they get back on their feet. We are happy also to work with GleanSLO who organizes volunteers to finish harvesting our fields and thus saving produce from becoming waste while at the same time providing more healthy produce for those most in need. With the shortage of labor to harvest our crops, which is a real reality for us these days, volunteers provide an invaluable service to both us farmers and the needy in our community. We look forward to many more years of supporting and partnering with the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County.” – Todd Talley, Talley Farms

“I got a phone call one afternoon from RISE about a young lady with epilepsy and bipolar disorder. She was at RISE because she had experienced physical abuse from her boyfriend. Initially, she had come out to California with big dreams, but unfortunately it did not work out that way. She stopped taking her meds, went into meth, eventually became homeless and lived under a bridge. When I met her – a very small and fragile young lady who had been through a lot – she looked at me and asked if I can help. I told her that I can and that I would get her back to her family. So we called grandmother Rose from Texas who cried the whole time during our phone call because she hadn’t heard from her granddaughter for six months and didn’t know where she was or whether or not she was alive. So my Community Action Team bought a bus ticket with the help of TMHA’s family reunification program, and we put the girl on a bus the next morning. Because of the wonderful work the Food Bank Coalition does, we were also able to give her a backpack full of food which sustained during the long bus ride.” – John Klevins, TransitionsMental Health / SLO Police Dept.

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A Community Takes Care of Its Own at Judson Terrace Homes

Once a month, the residents at Judson Terrace Homes, a living complex for low-income seniors, get together for our Senior Food Distribution. This event does not only supply them with the food they need but also offers a great way to socialize and talk to each other. Many are thankful for the support they receive because they do not own a car which, in addition to financial difficulties, limits their ability to provide for themselves.

Three of the individuals that enjoy the social gathering before the start of the food distribution are Ashawna, Debi and Bryan. Debi has just moved to Judson Terrace and is attending for the first time. She has heard others praise the fresh fruits and vegetables and is looking forward to receiving some for herself. Ashawna on the other hand is close to celebrating her first anniversary. She has missed the very first food distribution right after she moved in but has come here for every other one since then.

When Ashawna was raising and homeschooling her daughter, she struggled to make enough money to get by so she accepted support from the local food bank. In return, she volunteered at food distributions that her church organized. “I remember that we purchased a large quantity of food from the food bank for only a fraction of the money you would pay at a grocery store,” she recalled. “Then my church turned around and made that food available for everyone in the community.” This wonderful experience during that time showed Ashawna the great impact human actions of generosity and kindness can have on everyone involved. When her daughter was in her teenage years, Ashawna encouraged her to volunteer in the food bank’s warehouse because she wanted her to understand the work, logistics and resources that go into a community’s support network. Even now, as a senior living at Judson Terrace Homes, Ashawna wants to volunteer at the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County because she iseager to continue giving back.

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A Center for Hope: The Grange Hall in Atascadero

Every first Wednesday of the month, from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m., the Grange Hall in Atascadero, which is mostly a place for dancing sessions, is used for another purpose: to support those in need with healthy, nutritious food. Volunteers divide the available food items into individual boxes so it is easier for participants to receive their food – an action that inspired other food distribution sites to do the same. In addition to setting up tables and sorting the food that arrives in a Food Bank Coalition truck earlier in the morning, volunteers also deliver about half of the 60 food boxes to people who are not able to make their way to the Grange Hall.

One of the helpers that take care of these home deliveries is Blaze. He comes every month because he sees the need in the community and wants to do whatever he can to help out. As a volunteer and recipient, he is happy whenever he can receive a food box himself, but often decides to give his share to someone else who needs it more than him.

Two other volunteers, Bobbie and Duane, also belong to the giving and receiving end of the table. The couple lives in a mobile home park and is trying to get by on social security, but it is often not enough to cover all of their expenses. Without the food from the Food Bank Coalition, they wouldn’t have enough to eat. Even when Bobbie was still working as a waitress, they didn’t have much to get by. Sometimes, her paychecks came out to zero after insurance payments were taken out. Both of them made it their mission to volunteer after seeing how much it helped others in their family. Bobbie welcomes individuals as they walk in and assists them with signing in. Duane, who also works at a nearby food pantry during the week, helps with carrying the food boxes to people’s cars.

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