How A Community Unites To Secure Fair Meat

Summer on the Central Coast looked very different this year as our community canceled many iconic events and gatherings, including the California Mid State Fair. In years past, we enjoyed a wonderful relationship with this annual event as meat donated from the Fair’s livestock auction provided 30-40% of our annual meat protein for clients throughout SLO County. The cancellation of the Fair jeopardized our access to this vital supply of fresh, local meat.

Thankfully, local individuals and organizations stepped up to ensure the stability of our access to more than 48,000 pounds of meat. This effort was the brainchild of the James W. Brabeck Youth Legacy Fund at The Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County. Donors from the county and beyond provided funds to support the Fund’s Buyers Coalition, which purchased livestock during a re-engineered auction. This effort provided much-needed meat protein and also supported local 4-H and Future Farmers of America participants, who were raising their livestock for auction for months before the pandemic.

From left to right: Garret Olson, James Brabeck, Todd Ventura, Ken Dewar

 

With the livestock purchased, processing the beef was the next hurdle, and many organizations came together to accomplish this final step. For beef processing, Templeton & Visalia Livestock Markets collaborated with Central Valley Meat/Harris Ranch to transport and process all donated beef at no cost to the SLO Food Bank. For hog processing, three entities came together: the James W. Brabeck Youth Legacy Fund, The Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County’s Disaster Support Fund, and the Hughes Charitable Foundation.

From left to right: Joe Simonin, Beth Baxley, Mike Smith, Randy Baxley, Garret Olson

 

Additionally, we received a hearty donation from the Rotary Club of San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, whose focus is on supporting SLO County youth. They contributed the purchase of and processing costs of livestock to be ready for distribution upon receipt. A generous couple also purchased 25 livestock animals and covered the processing of the meat for our clients.

From left to right: Ken Dewar, Joe Simonin, Michael Milner, Mariah Ramos, Mariah’s sister, Tom Zehnder, Garret Olson

 

“We rely on the protein from the livestock auction to round out the fresh produce, whole grains, and other healthy food items that provide balanced nutrition,” explains SLO Food Bank CEO Garret Olson. “If not for the incredible contributions of so many people and organizations, we faced a very possible reality of zero protein from this important event and during a time of historic hunger in our community. Now, as our freezer is filling up with fair meat, our team is overwhelmed with gratitude. These acts of kindness are shining examples of the compassion and generosity of SLO County and how we can overcome incredible odds by coming together. The organizations and individuals who leaned in are absolutely heroes to us and our clients.”

– By Branna Still, Director of Development