Feeding People in the Northernmost Corner of SLO County

The Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County (SLO Food Bank) is the only countywide source of nutritious food for people in need, providing services from San Miguel to Nipomo and every community in between.

Five times per month, a loaded SLO Food Bank truck makes its long trek to San Miguel to supply the northernmost community of SLO County with fresh produce and nutritious, shelf-stable items. This includes two Children’s Farmers Markets and three Public Neighborhood Food Distributions.

Three times per month, residents of San Miguel have a chance to receive food at a Neighborhood Food Distribution provided by the SLO Food Bank.

Due to its location, people in this quaint little town have only limited access to a comprehensive food supply that most other SLO County residents enjoy. With the next large grocery stores located ten miles away in Paso Robles, individuals that lack transportation are especially affected by food insecurity.

Lillian Larsen, its local elementary school, ranks as one of the highest poverty schools in the county.  Nearly 90% of students are eligible for the free or reduced rate federal meal program, so in addition to the town’s isolated location, many families in this community also struggle to cover their basic needs with limited incomes.

In San Miguel, many families struggle to cover their basic needs with limited incomes.

That’s why the SLO Food Bank is working hard to offer a steady supply of high quality food, including fresh fruits and vegetables, which are hard to access here and often more expensive to buy, as well as guidance about how to make the best use of these healthy options.

On every 2nd Wednesday of the month, volunteers Marilyn, Sheila, and Al from Saint James Episcopal Church in Paso Robles set up a public food distribution at Lillian Larsen Elementary School.  Arcelia and Maria from the Promotores Collaborative provide bilingual nutrition education, food samples, and recipe suggestions to community members waiting to pick up food.

Volunteers Al, Sheila, Marilyn, Arcelia and Maria.

In February 2020, we asked for the opinions of our recipients in San Miguel, and here is what they said:

One of the first recipients of the day is Maria, who is visiting for the first time.  A friend recommended that she stop by because of the great selection of quality items.

Blanca, another recipient, tells us how thankful she is for the regular support the SLO Food Bank provides.  She has been receiving help for a couple of years and the food distribution has completely changed the way she eats.  Sometimes, when she gets more food than she can eat, she shares it with her neighbors.

David has been receiving support from the SLO Food Bank since he retired.

Emilia is not working at the moment, so the food that she takes home helps her from becoming hungry. She uses everything she gets but especially loves cooking with the vegetables.

David says he and his wife have started using the SLO Food Bank’s services since they retired. The food support has helped them stay healthy and fit.

– By Luise Gleason, Marketing & Communications Coordinator