In times of need, one individual’s actions can inspire others to come together and make a significant impact. Such is the story of the revival of turkey donations to the SLO Food Bank in honor of the late Hugh Pitts. Hugh, a devoted board member and advocate for the community, had a tradition of donating a pallet of turkeys to the SLO Food Bank every Thanksgiving. When he passed away in 2018, the turkey donations ceased. However, starting in 2020, local organizations came together to revive the tradition and ensure that those in need could enjoy a holiday meal.
Remembering Hugh Pitts
Dan Sutton, the general manager at Pismo Oceano Vegetable Exchange (POVE) for twenty years and board member at the Farm Bureau for twelve years, remembers his dear friend and fellow board member Hugh Pitts.
“Hugh was a great leader and a passionate advocate for our community,” explained Dan in a phone interview with the SLO Food Bank. ”For many years around Thanksgiving, he would donate a pallet of turkeys to the SLO Food Bank, so that they could be distributed to people in need within SLO County.”
Reviving a Community Tradition
When Hugh passed away in 2018, the turkey donations fell away. But one night this year, current events and the surging acts of kindness within our community reminded Dan of the tradition Hugh started and so he set out to revive it in honor of his friend.
“I wanted to make sure the support was there, but it really did not take long for people to get excited about this concept,” described Dan further, “and now I’m proud to say that every entity, including the Farm Bureau and its board members, Pismo Oceano Vegetable Exchange, Food 4 Less and the SLO Food Bank, has stepped up to make this happen.”
Brent Burchett, Executive Director at the Farm Bureau took over the logistics and communication for this project. He called several grocery stores until he connected with Food 4 Less who gave him a deal on turkeys. The entire collaboration now encompasses one pallet of turkeys as well as one pallet each for cabbage, celery and Brussels sprouts which are provided by POVE.
“We are incredibly grateful for this generous donation. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Right now, we are working hard to provide our 80 agency partners with turkeys to distribute throughout SLO County in time for Thanksgiving. We want to ensure that everyone in our community, even if they are struggling financially, can enjoy a holiday meal this year,” says SLO Food Bank’s Partner Services Manager Suzie Freeman.
“We are all honored to contribute to the welfare of our community, just as Hugh would be,” summarizes Dan. “And in the process we are also honoring our friends’ leadership and compassion. It has brought a smile to all our faces.”