Outreach in our Community
We understand the barriers to engaging in healthy behaviors, including various social determinants. By providing access to fresh produce and nutritious food options at each distribution site, we help build a healthier, hunger-free community.
What We Do
Not all members of our community have the same needs, which is why the SLO Food Bank has various programs that utilize creative methods to distribute a multitude of food items to those in need. We work to empower community members to make healthy dietary choices by providing them with appropriate food items tailored to meet their needs.
Children’s Farmers Markets
This program creates a Farmers Market environment for kids, allowing them to select from a variety of fruits and vegetables to take home to share with their families. Children are given “Food Bank Bucks” to simulate a shopping experience. Participants take home 10 to 15 pounds of fresh, seasonal produce items, such as potatoes, apples, oranges, cabbage, squash, pears and lettuce.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we and our partner sites have seen the need to place the program on hold due to the nature of its activities. SLO Food Bank is continuing to reach as many children and families as we can by hosting distributions of fresh produce and other grocery items at school meal sites when possible and by extending our Breakfast Bag program from only summer time into the fall and winter months.
Homeless individuals do not have access to the tools and appliances needed to prepare or consume foods. That’s why we worked with different community partners and local sponsors to create No-Cook Bags filled with nutritious foods that require no heating, cool storage, or specialized tools to safely eat, including granola and protein bars, nutrient-fortified cereals, canned protein such as chicken, nut butters, jerky, protein shakes, pop-top cans of soups, beans and fruits, as well as bottled water.
In 2019, we worked with 33 different groups to distribute close to 14,000 bags throughout the county. If you are part of a non-profit or government organization that regularly interacts with the homeless or transient populations of SLO County and are interested in distributing our bags, please complete the No-Cook Bags Participation Form & Agreement and email it to our Partner Services Manager Suzie Freeman or fax it to (805) 238-6956.
Senior Farmers Markets
As we age, fruit and vegetables are vital for maintaining health, but many older Americans do not consume enough on a regular basis. Seniors living on a limited or fixed income often have to choose between basic needs (housing, medical bills, etc.) or purchasing healthy food. This financial barrier may also be compounded by a lack of transportation or mobility. In cooperation with local housing complexes and mobile home parks, we are ensuring that low-income seniors have monthly access to a variety of fresh produce at a Senior Farmers Markets easily accessible for them. In addition, these markets have become a regular community event where residents check in with each other and organize community meals with produce from the market.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, SLO Food Bank is continuing to distribute fresh produce at our Senior Farmers Markets sites in a “pre-bagged” format in an effort to minimize cross contact amongst our participants.
While school is out or not fully in session, daily access to free meals is limited or nonexistent, and many parents struggle to provide meals for their families. Our Breakfast Bags help close this hunger gap. Each bag provides multiple weeks’ worth of nutritious breakfast foods, including cereal bars, instant oatmeal, cereal, peanut butter, milk, and canned and dried fruit. In partnership with youth organizations, school districts, local housing authorities, and other social service organizations, we typically distribute the bags to children in SLO County’s highest need areas during June, July, and August (while school is out for the summer).
In response to COVID-19 pandemic distance learning, SLO Food Bank has extended the Breakfast Bag program into the fall and winter months for the 2020-2021 school year.