Holiday Spirit in the California Valley

Nancy Glowski

“Don’t forget our Christmas party on December 15,” shouts Nancy Glowski as another person walks away with a shopping cart full of food. Nancy, who has lived in this area off and on for the past 24 years, knows everyone personally. She got very well acquainted with being the reference person when she was running her own grocery store and restaurant. Now she volunteers for the SLO Food Bank and spreads information about the food distributions through word of mouth.

Twice a month, one of our warehouse workers drives 90 minutes to deliver food to this remote distribution site within a community of 300 people. Usually more than 50 of them show up to pick up the fresh produce, meat, bread and shelf-stable items. Not everybody can make it today, though. It’s December and many residents cannot drive on the streets that have been flooded with mud after recent rainfalls. But thanks to Nancy, they will still be able to receive the help they need. “This is a wonderful community, and I love everyone of them,” she says joyfully as she fills her car with food items that she will later deliver to her home-bound neighbors’ houses.

Richard and Carol with their dog Buddy

Two of the first people waiting in line are Richard and Carol with their dog Buddy. The couple first started to use this community support twenty years ago when they had just moved here from the bay area to live closer to her parents. Both of them remember that the initial distributions were held inside the library building. Nowadays the food is handed out next to Food Bank truck outside where Richard and Carol still thankfully accept their share. “The Food Bank has helped us tremendously over the years,” states Carol who always hopes for bread since she knows many dishes she can make with it. “We especially appreciate the support during the holidays because we are able to feed our whole family from the food we receive.”

A little while later, a young man with a radiant smile on his face appears. His name is Skylar and he is very excited to tell everyone about his big plans for the upcoming new year. “I want to become a fire fighter or police officer,” pronounces the 18-year old proudly who is already taking night classes to pursue his dreams. He was born in this area and has helped fight some of the local fires that have occurred recently, but his ambitions are spurring him on to go to Fresno, San Luis Obispo or Santa Maria. But for now, he has come here to supply his parents with healthier food options.

Another man tells us about a farm he used to have in the Los Osos Valley and about the great amount of harvest he used to donate to the Food Bank. He has since then relocated to the California Valley and now uses the support during times of unemployment. “The high quality of the fresh produce is amazing. It has been in the past and still is to this day,” he notes and pushes a full shopping cart towards his car.

Skylar dreams about becoming a fire fighter or police officer.

People are still showing up half an hour later. Among them are Daniel and Brenda. The young couple has been together for about a year, but this is Daniel’s first time at a food distribution. Brenda has enjoyed the food donations with her family in the past and quickly explains how everything works. “My family is very thankful for the food we get,” she comments while Daniel and her are putting bags full of food in her trunk.

Brenda has filled her trunk with food donations for the whole family.

One hour and over fifty hugs later, our volunteer Nancy sees off the last visitor for the day. Empty boxes are returned to the Food Bank truck, and the shopping carts are stored away to be used again in two weeks, when another food truck makes its long journey to the California Valley where kindness is a philosophy of life.

– By Luise Gleason, Marketing & Communications Coordinator