Nipomo Elementary Food Distribution

The food distribution at Nipomo Elementary is one of our most attended sites. Every month, a group of dedicated volunteers works to feed people experiencing food insecurity. Marla Eaton, Mary Anne Morgan, Janice Chagoya, and Rosemary Cleaves manage the distribution and coordinate the volunteers who donate their time each month.

Their mission began years ago when they saw a need for a food distribution in San Luis Obispo’s South County; there were no other food distributions in the area at the time. Janice was working at Nipomo Elementary, along with a few other schools in the area. They knew an elementary school was a good place to start, as their main goal was to reach children and families in need. They started their first distribution at Nipomo Elementary over 7 years ago packing food for 96 households. Within the first two years numbers gradually reached a peak of 228 households.  As the Food Bank expanded, more distributions were established in the South County, easing some of the pressure on the Nipomo Elementary distribution.

After each distribution, Marla, Mary Anne, Janice, and Rosemary meet to discuss what went well, and what improvements can be made. They take suggestions from volunteers and are always open to changes that will make the process easier and enjoyable for all involved. Rosemary shared how she appreciates what each group contributes to the distribution. The volunteers rely on the Food Bank to provide the food, and the Food Bank couldn’t distribute to those who need it without the support of volunteers. Rosemary also shared appreciation for the produce the Food Bank can provide, saying they feel their “clients are getting a good, balanced diet”.

Rosemary said her favorite aspect of being part of this distribution is the community; bringing people of all different backgrounds together, and getting people doing something for their community with “their hearts and their hands”. If you were to attend this distribution, you’d see each volunteer wearing a name tag – they want everyone to know each other on a first-name basis. Rosemary said she’s seen firsthand how connections are made between volunteers, participants − and everyone involved. Volunteers have seen families grow up, and some of the children from those families have even returned to volunteer and give their time back to the organization. The Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo thanks all the volunteers at Nipomo Elementary for their work in alleviating hunger and creating a healthier community.

– By Emily Hansen, Community Food Programs Coordinator