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San Luis Obispo single mother and small business owner utilized SLO Food Bank during pandemic

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Posted at 10:14 AM, Oct 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-14 13:14:23-04

We kicked off the 10th year of KSBY’s Season of Hope campaign. KSBY’s Neil Hebert has more on the Central Coast’s largest food and toy drive and its direct impact on our local community.

“Over 250,000 pounds of food; an incredible amount of food,” said Matt Morrison, the warehouse manager for the SLO Food Bank.

Over the first nine years of KSBY’s Season of Hope campaign, the community has come through.

“We’ll bring in about 25-30,000 pounds in this food drive. That will hold us over for about six months,” said Morrison.

Over the past year and a half during the pandemic, SLO County has seen an increase of 54% in the number of those needing assistance from the food bank. San Luis Obispo single mother and small business owner, Helena Murawski-Quintanar, never had an inkling she would have to use the service to provide for her family, but the pandemic had other ideas.

“Absolute zero overnight. It was very difficult,” said Helena of the income from her local business.

Her business came to a screeching halt.

“When everything is gone, you just freak out. As a single parent, you don’t have time to freak out,” said Helena. “I grew up homeless as a child in San Luis Obispo County. As an adult, moving back here, being in my own small business, I never thought that this would ever happen.”

Helena applied for food stamps among other services offered to alleviate the need, but it wasn’t enough.

“I noticed that it would be very sparse at the end of the month. I needed something to fill in some space because my boys are SLO High football players. They eat a lot,” said Helena. “It was tough. Trying not to show them that you’re frustrated or upset or worried about things. The food bank helped with that. I didn’t have to explain things. It was just kind of there for them.”

It was there, and it can be for your family or for someone you know that needs assistance. Helena says there’s no shame in needing help from time to time.

“When I came here, it was really easy to come back. It kind of feels like a family,” said Helena.

No line to wait in, no hoops to jump through; just a community working together to help those in their time of need.

“I encourage people to come in here. Walk into the food bank if you’re on this side of town, meet these people, and then you’ll want to help. Give as much as you can because it’s definitely going to help a lot of families, maybe even your own,” said Helena.