SLO Food Bank Response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Updated: April 13, 2020

We are all in this together to support our neighbors who need our help!

Our team at the SLO Food Bank is closely monitoring developments with regards to the continuing spread of the COVID-19 virus. We value the health of our community and are following all recommended guidelines from the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We are taking the necessary precautions to help make sure that food and products remain safe, and that our distributions and volunteer activities can continue.

If you or someone you know needs food, please visit our Food Locator to get up-to-date information on scheduled distributions or call us at 805-238-4664. We can direct you to a food distribution site in your area and give you up-to-date food distribution information.

The SLO Food Bank and the County of San Luis Obispo have partnered to implement a program to deliver food and prescription medication for self-isolating seniors (65+) and individuals with chronic medical conditions who do not have access to other means of procurement (e.g. family, friends, neighbors, caregivers, or other community organizations). Approximately 900 households are being served weekly by this program.

Requests can also be submitted online or by calling the County Phone Assistance Center at 805-543-2444. An operator will assist with the survey. There are limited services to support residents who need help procuring food and/or prescription medication. If you can contact someone else to assist you, please reach out to them first.

In March 2020, the total amount of households we served at our public food distributions has increased by approximately 37%. The volume of SLO Food Bank-sourced food we have provided to our nonprofit agency partners has increased by approximately 67%. The total pounds of food items we included in our No-Cook Bags has increased by approximately 83% and the number of people coming directly to our warehouse looking for food has increased by approximately 485%.


What are we doing?

Schools and many businesses have been closed and the need for food in our community is greater than ever. We are currently working with the school districts and other partner agencies to ensure continuity of service and to set up additional food distributions. More information about these additional distributions will be available as they roll out. 

The safety of our staff, clients, volunteers, partners and visitors is our highest priority. The SLO Food Bank is taking proactive and voluntary steps at our warehouse and distribution sites to help reduce contact with and/or spread of COVID-19. These include:

  • Requiring frequent and vigorous handwashing by all staff and volunteers, including whenever someone enters our food warehouse.
  • Requiring the use of disposable gloves and protective masks by all staff and to all volunteers handling food at our warehouse and at distribution sites.
  • Striping our warehouse floor with tape to ensure staff and volunteers maintain physical distancing when processing food.
  • Providing staff with sanitizing solution for use at distribution sites.
  • Advising volunteers, staff and visitors to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Advising volunteers, staff and visitors to avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Advising volunteers, staff and visitors to stay home if they display signs of illness, especially fever or cough, or come into contact with affected individuals
  • Reducing the possibility of exposure to our clients by providing all food pre-bagged 
  • Encouraging social distancing of at least six feet between people at distribution sites

We are taking proactive and voluntary steps at our warehouse and distribution sites to help reduce contact with and/or spread of COVID-19.


How can you help?

The current situation is very dynamic. Things may change at a moment’s notice, but right now the biggest needs that we have are:

Monetary Donations: People in our community will be sent home from work without pay, schools and childcare facilities are closed, and not everyone has enough money to stock up on food. We are expecting an increasing demand for our services soon. If you have extra, please consider donating to help those who do not have enough. As for donations of food, we ask that you DO NOT send in food donations at this time to avoid nonessential travel. 

Healthy Volunteers: Our operations rely heavily on volunteers! Many of our dedicated volunteers fall in the governor’s noted vulnerable populations. We need people who can come and help us pack bags of fresh produce and bags of shelf-stable items for our food distributions. Volunteers must be 16 years or older, show no signs of respiratory illness and follow all recommended guidelines to reduce the contact with and/or spread of COVID-19. Please visit our website to sign up for a volunteer shift. 

We are here for our community in SLO County!

We want to ensure that children, families, and seniors get the food they need to thrive during this unprecedented time. We are committed to our mission of working with a network of community partners to alleviate hunger in San Luis Obispo County and build a healthier community through healthy food, education and leadership. 

Let’s help each other! Thank you so much for your support!

Additional Resources

San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

California Department of Public Health

San Luis Obispo County Health Department

Questions regarding COVID-19 (the Coronavirus)


1. Is the SLO Food Bank open and continuing its daily operations?

Yes, we are open and continuing our food distribution operations to meet increased need. However, we have temporarily paused our ability to accept household-scale food donations. We are still accepting bulk donations from commercial productions. We look forward to having the capacity to accept household food donations in the future, but for now our staff is already fully allocated to our increased distribution needs. We are also unable to accommodate any tours or visits to our warehouse.

Office location: 1180 Kendall Road, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Hours: 8:30am-4:00pm, Monday through Friday
For specific information about our public distribution sites click here.

2. Is the SLO Food Bank still accepting volunteers at our warehouse?

Yes, the SLO Food Bank is still accepting volunteers. We rely heavily on individuals and volunteer groups to help us in our warehouse, at food distribution sites, and at events. You may volunteer one time, or on a regular basis. You can sign up to volunteer on our website by clicking here. Please note that there are age restrictions for our warehouse–based opportunities.

If you would like to volunteer, we will provide you with safety training and personal protective equipment. We will require you to adhere to our enhanced safety protocols during your entire time at the warehouse. Thank you for helping us care for our community in a manner that is respectful to everyone’s health and wellbeing!

3. Is the SLO Food Bank canceling any food distributions due to COVID-19?

Most of our food distribution sites will not be cancelled due to COVID-19 at this time. Some of our nonprofit agency partners have cancelled distributions at their location, so please check our Food Locator for updated information. To download a calendar of our regular food distributions and partner meal and pantry sites throughout San Luis Obispo County, please click here.

4. Is the SLO Food Bank hosting special COVID-19 food distributions for people in need?

Yes, the SLO Food Bank is partnering with the County of San Luis Obispo to deliver food to self-isolating seniors and those with significant underlying medical conditions. As previously mentioned, on a weekly basis, approximately 900 households are served by this program.

The SLO Food Bank distributes food to more than 30,000 individuals per month in San Luis Obispo County. We do this in partnership with more than 77 nonprofit partners ranging from food pantries to meal sites. The distribution of food through our agency partners increased 67% in the first month of COVID-19 support.

If you or someone you know is in need of food assistance, please click here for a list of available distributions throughout San Luis Obispo County.

5. What is the SLO Food Bank doing to reduce contact and/or the spread of COVID-19?

The SLO Food Bank is committed to the safety of our staff, volunteers, clients as well as visitors, and has implemented a staffing safety plan to eliminate unnecessary human contact in the warehouse. Under this plan, many administrative staff members are working remotely, and all who are on site at the warehouse are adhering to enhanced safety protocol. Our leadership is closely monitoring announcements from the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure that we are following their recommended guidelines.

For more information on COVID-19, please visit the websites of the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both websites are updated daily with the latest information and advice for the public.