Category: Staff

Farewell Haley Trengove

We are saying goodbye to our Community Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator, to most of you known as Haley Trengove. Haley will be pursuing a new opportunity within the area. We will miss her dearly, but we wish her lots of luck on her new adventure! Read her little interview to find out what she has to say about her time here at the SLO Food Bank.

1. What were your responsibilities as Community Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator?

As the volunteer coordinator I got to work alongside some of the kindest souls in our community. My responsibilities involved recruiting, training, and instructing a diverse volunteer core! We worked to accomplish many tasks that help with the operations of the SLO Food Bank!

2. Could you describe what a typical day looked like for you?

I started each day by visiting my buddies in the warehouse. We spent the first part of the morning talking over volunteer needs for the day and brainstorming different projects that volunteers could be set up on. After that I would work on responding to volunteer related emails, requests, and phone calls. My mornings were spent greeting volunteers as they arrived for their volunteer shift, training new volunteers on the Do’s and Don’t’s of the warehouse, and making sure every individual felt welcome and comfortable while volunteering.

 » Read more about: Farewell Haley Trengove  »

In Memory of Will Moreland

It is with heavy hearts that we share that our own Will Moreland passed away on December 30.

Will was the longest serving member on staff and served as USDA Warehouse Clerk. But he added so much to the Food Bank than the performance of his job duties. He was just as renowned for being a memorable character who spoke with credible authenticity about work and life.

Will had his finger on a community in need. His interactions in the field at distributions, with agency partners, and in the warehouse with volunteers, displayed a consummate respect for those in need and those who were willing to help.

Will served his country and this Food Bank honorably. In many ways he will always be a part of our efforts.

We will pass along news about service arrangements as they become known. Rest in peace good man!

 » Read more about: In Memory of Will Moreland  »

How Food Brings Us Together

I recently celebrated my fourth year as Nutrition Program Manager at the Food Bank Coalition. When I was first offered my current position in September 2014, I jumped at the chance to not only get paid to do what I love, but also relocate from North Carolina to an area that would bring me personal joy as a competitive trail runner and lover of anything involving the outdoors. Each year, I like to stop and take time to reflect on my experiences and personal growth here at the Food Bank Coalition. I think about the many interactions I’ve had with clients, staff and partners. There is a recurring theme, which (you may not be surprised to read) is FOOD, but also everything that is attached to food.

Of course, food isn’t just food. Food is tied to memories and emotions. It’s experience. It can be harmful and healing. Food is how we identify and how we attach ourselves to different friends, cultures and ethnic groups. We need calories and nourishment, but food provides us with much more than just those things. Writing this, I think about *Patty, a volunteer and recipient at one of our Senior Farmers Markets. Patty, like many of the seniors we serve, lives alone. She prepares meals for one and dines solo most nights. One could experience dining alone every night in many different ways. For Patty, it’s laying out a tablecloth and lighting a candle. She savors each bite and makes the entire meal a pleasurable and mindful experience. Hence, her meals are a practice of self-love and celebration of health.

My position at the Food Bank Coalition has often extended outside of food and the education around it. Over the years, I have helped people of all ages and backgrounds improve their eating habits, and in turn, their overall health. But I’ve also made countless connections and friendships. Last November, I met a client who, like me, spent her life playing piano. In fact, she taught lessons and wrote music for decades. However, age and arthritis had become barriers to her playing. After a USDA distribution in the common area of her senior living community, she eagerly took an offer to play her songs and brought me one of her music books. I played her songs as she glowingly sat beside me. She had only heard a computerized version; and, although played with perfect accuracy, a computer doesn’t capture the emotion and depth of a song like a real person.

 » Read more about: How Food Brings Us Together  »

Kevin Drabinski Becomes New CEO

The Board of Directors of the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County today announced that they have selected Kevin Drabinski to be their new Chief Executive Officer.

In making the announcement, Board Chair Jeff Mercer said, “During a competitive search, Kevin emerged as the candidate we felt was uniquely well qualified to set the direction for the operational and financial success of the Food Bank. We were impressed with his experience, education, and leadership skills and are confident he will help advance the mission of the Food Bank while working with its many agency and community partners to alleviate hunger in the County.”

Drabinski most recently served as the senior field representative for the California State Assembly district office serving San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties. He has previously held increasingly responsible positions in administration and communications, and is a 30-year resident of San Luis Obispo. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from UC Berkeley, a master’s in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco, and a master’s in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University New Orleans.

Drabinski joins the Food Bank Coalition’s executive team along with Chief Operations Officer Wendy Lewis. Board Chair Mercer said, “Wendy Lewis has provided singular contributions, taking on complex additional responsibilities during the time when our previous CEO, Carl Hansen, began transitioning out of that role. She is also to be commended for leading our talented staff and community partners to ensure uninterrupted food distribution during the recent move to our new centralized warehouse in San Luis Obispo.”

 » Read more about: Kevin Drabinski Becomes New CEO  »

Farewell Laura Reinacher: Q & A

What was your role at the Food Bank the past two years?

I served as an AmeriCorps Fellow with AmeriCorps VIP (Volunteer Infrastructure Program). Through the supervising agency of Cal Poly, I was placed at the SLO County Food Bank, and took on the position of Volunteer Coordinator. Throughout my time, I have recruited and supported hundreds of volunteers to assist the Food Bank team through our programs, events, fundraisers, and warehouse operations. In recruiting, recognizing, and building partnerships with my volunteers, we have been able to consistently serve the 46,000 SLO County residents who are in need of food.

What was your favorite volunteer event?

My favorite volunteer events have been with the Food Bank’s Children’s Programs. My first event was a children’s farmer’s market in Nipomo at the Dorothea Lange Elementary School cafeteria in 2014. Children progressed through the line exchanging our play money with staff. “Two apples for a dollar,” exclaimed a volunteer. At the end of the line, children were greeted by nutrition education volunteers who were serving a smoothie sample using fruit distributed that day, along with a recipe card. As a passionate advocate for children and education, I feel proud in playing a part in the Food Bank’s expanding efforts to nourish young minds.

What was your favorite Food Bank memory?

Well, I could probably write a book of my favorite memories. One of my most memorable moments was dressing up as Gobble the Turkey on the day of the Turkey Trot— greeting children, dancing, and then spontaneously asked by a news anchor to make a “Gobble” squawk for the live broadcast!

 » Read more about: Farewell Laura Reinacher: Q & A  »

The Value of Interns

The Food Bank takes great pride in the fact that we have less than a 5 percent overhead. We could not do this without our extensive volunteer core of 400 to 500 hundred putting in thousands of hours each month.  This past summer we had the opportunity to host a different type of volunteer, an intern. We were leery at first and hesitated. Why would we not jump at the chance for the desperately needed help? It was our experience that others complained that interns weren’t useful and drained their time. The effort they put into them didn’t pay off and the bottom line that it wasn’t cost effective.  Rolling the dice we said yes and two fresh faced college freshmen arrived. Did we regret our decision? The answer is an outstanding NO! Tyler and Mayra made a huge impact on both our staff and the community.  Their time was mutually beneficial and we couldn’t have asked for two more incredible people.  Below they give their perspectives, and I think they went back to school with new life skills and a true sense of accomplishment. – Wendy Lewis, Associate Director

“Working at the Food Bank has been a wonderful experience. I was able to help out in many different areas. Not only have I helped out around the office and warehouse, I have also been fortunate enough to work one-on-one with the people in our community. I’ve been able to help with the Cal-Fresh Food Stamps program by pre-screening people who are in need of assistance and seeing if they qualify to receive food stamps. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with some of the children in our community by going to the Canyon Creek Learning center and handing lunches to the children in the area. Overall this experience has been amazing! I have truly enjoyed my time spent here.  It has been such a gratifying experience and it has shown me that anyone can make a difference.” – Mayra Velazquez, UC Santa Cruz

“Working at the Food Bank this summer has been a fun and rewarding experience. From bringing food to children through the Lovin’ Lunchbox program, to creating spreadsheets and reports; from answering phones to working in the warehouse, my time this summer has been well spent. I feel like I have contributed my insights and skills to a program that has taught me a lot as well. It has made me aware of how big of an issue hunger is, and how important the job is that everyone is doing here. Thank you to all of the Food Bank for making my experience a great one!” – Tyler Davis, Stanford University

 » Read more about: The Value of Interns  »