The SLO Food Bank is proud to announce that Molly Kern has assumed a new role as the organization’s new Chief Operating Officer (COO). The addition of the COO position to the 30-member team will be crucial to the Food Bank’s success in meeting the needs of our community during these unprecedented times. Molly will oversee all aspects of operations, including procurement, warehouse and delivery, inventory, food rescue, and food safety personnel and programs.
Before joining the SLO Food Bank team, Kern worked for the SLO Chamber of Commerce for nearly a decade, collaborating with countless Chamber and community members to make our region a better place to live and work. As Director of Governmental Affairs, Kern spearheaded Chamber advocacy on issues critical to our economic vitality including housing, childcare, and infrastructure. Since March 2020, the SLO Food Bank has transformed its operations to meet increased demand during the most challenging chapter of its 33-year history. Almost three years later, the tragic reality is that over 31,000 SLO County Residents continue to grapple with food insecurity and rely on the hunger relief network to make ends meet.
The COO position is the result of the organization’s assessment of the complexity of food procurement and the need to increase focus on food safety. Based on that assessment, the position of Operations Director was split into two positions: a Procurement & Food Safety Manager and a Chief Operating Officer.
According to CEO Garret Olson, “Bringing on a new COO, and Molly in particular, provides incredible capacity for our entire team to sustain the historic level of service we’ve been delivering for the last 34 months since the start of the pandemic.”
In 2019, the SLO Food Bank provided over 3.3 million pounds of food to alleviate hunger in SLO County. In 2020, that number climbed to over 5 million pounds. For the last two years, the SLO Food Bank provided over 4 million pounds of food through 85 other nonprofit partners, over 75 direct service distributions, and the weekly senior home delivery program. The SLO Food Bank team anticipates persistent hardship as many emergency assistance programs expire and the essential cost of living increases with record-high inflationary impacts on food, housing, and fuel costs.
“Molly’s experience and well-earned professional reputation in SLO County are already providing informed solutions and creative ideas to further our effective, efficient, caring services,” said Olson.
“I am thrilled to take on this new role at the SLO Food Bank and look forward to making a positive impact in the community in step with an amazing team,” said Kern. “I have always had a particular passion for behind-the-scenes systems and hard work that support seamless delivery of service and am honored to have been entrusted with stewarding those efforts with such an impactful organization.”
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About the SLO Food Bank: The SLO Food Bank is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization serving all of San Luis Obispo County. The SLO Food Bank’s mission is to work with a network of community partners to alleviate hunger in San Luis Obispo County and build a healthier community. In 2021, the SLO Food Bank distributed over 4.1 million pounds of food through its Public Neighborhood distributions, a network of over 80 nonprofit Agency Partners, its Senior Home Delivery Program, and children and senior farmer’s markets. Last year, GleanSLO, a food rescue program of the SLO Food Bank, prevented over 310,000 pounds of local produce from laying to waste and instead nourished neighbors in need. To learn more about resources offered by the SLO Food Bank or ways to get involved, please visit www.slofoodbank.org.