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SLO Food Bank working to address rising need among coronavirus-related unemployment

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Posted at 8:26 AM, Mar 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-30 11:36:47-04

As uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus leaves many Central Coast residents wondering how they will get their next meal, the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County is working hard to ease those concerns.

The Food Bank is seeing a dramatic increase in the amount of need for food.

"There's a lot of folks that never needed support from the Food Bank are finding they do need it now," Food Bank Director of Operations Tim Parker said.

Almost overnight, the Food Bank's usual 2,500 clientele has nearly doubled.

To keep up with the dramatic rise in need, it's all hands on deck at the Food Bank's distribution center.

"It's been incredible to be here with everyone, we've had such an out pour from the community with extra volunteers and helping hands, especially," Lisa Viverito, who works in the Food Bank's administrative department, said.

"We're really grateful to have some County employees stationed here basically full time to help package orders much more quickly," Parker said.

In line with the Food Bank's mission to provide nutritious sustenance, about 50 percent of what's packaged up and distributed is fresh produce.

But when it comes to many other items on the grocery list, the panic buying taking place at grocery stores nationwide is having an impact at the Food Bank, too.

"Short term supply chains are seeing an impact, whereas we might have relied on a product turn around in a couple weeks time, for some products it's as long as a few months," Parker said.

For those stocking and bagging products, cleanliness is key.

In addition to mandatory hand washing, staff wears gloves, surfaces are cleaned often, blue tape keeps crew members 6 feet apart, and no unscheduled volunteers or visitors are allowed in.

"Our goal is to be here as long as there's this need in COVID response and to be here as the community Food Bank on the other side," Parker said.

Sign-ups are being waived at distribution sites and food is pre-bagged so people can take it and go.

Visit slofoodbank.org for a live list of donation centers.

About 75 percent of the food bank's funding comes from private donors. Learn more about supporting the Food Bank by visiting its website and click on donate.