SLO County Organizations Promote Health Benefits of California Grown Produce

Efforts will increase local produce access and education in underserved communities and local school districts.

San Luis Obispo, CA – May 5, 2021 – SLO Food Bank, Slow Money San Luis Obispo (Slow Money SLO), and the Promotores Collaborative of San Luis Obispo County are working together to improve the health of underserved Central Coast communities while expanding demand for California grown and locally produced fruits and vegetables. The three organizations will provide nutrition education through SLO Food Bank programs and expand local produce offerings at area school districts.

The project will increase SLO Food Bank clients’ familiarity with CA-grown fruits and vegetables and promote participation in programs like Market Match, which maximizes CalFresh benefits at local Farmers’ Markets. Promotores, trained bilingual health educators, will connect with community members at SLO Food Bank distributions and via cooking classes.

“Two of the leading chronic health conditions in the Latino population in the US are heart disease and type 2 diabetes, so we are focusing on providing nutritional resources in order to have a healthier life and to help prevent these chronic diseases,” says Fernanda Lucas, Promotores Collaborative Program Coordinator. “During the pandemic, Promotores have demonstrated the passion to provide up-to-date information that serves our Latino community, and we look forward to continuing this effort through this partnership.”

SLO Food Bank staff will increase nutrition education outreach at additional program sites, including those that serve children and older adults.

“We are grateful for this opportunity to improve the health of our community while supporting the extensive agricultural network that is present in SLO County. The goals of this project have been close to the heart of our nutrition education program for years, and we now have the chance to grow and enhance our efforts,” said Tara Davis, Nutrition and Children’s Programs Manager at SLO Food Bank.

Slow Money SLO will engage three local school districts in expanding specialty crop purchases from at least six local California farmers, supporting purchases with farmer visits and tastings to increase the number of students consuming California grown fruits and vegetables.

“Even through COVID-19, we continue to recognize the importance and nutritional benefits of incorporating local food into school food service programs. We are excited to expand the program to additional districts and many more students by increasing the outreach and implementation efforts of Farm to School Central Coast,” said Jeff Wade, Founder and Executive Director at Slow Money SLO.

Nutrition education efforts are projected to reach at least 2,600 children and 2,200 adults, while school district purchasing is projected to impact 4,000 additional children by April 2023.

“We are thrilled to partner with SLO Food Bank on this incredible project! We look forward to further strengthening our Farm to School efforts in collaboration with Slow Money SLO,” notes Erin Primer, Food Services Director at San Luis Coastal Unified School District.