NewsLocal News


Facing historic need, SLO Food Bank makes good on mission to feed community

Posted at 7:33 AM, Jun 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-05 10:40:02-04

Food insecurity is a major issue right now across the country and in San Luis Obispo County, the need for services have tripled since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

In March, the SLO Food Bank had a food inventory of 6 months. In three weeks time, that inventory dropped to just seven weeks as the coronavirus began to wreak havoc on people's lives.

"One thing that hasn't changed is the SLO Food Bank's core mission," CEO Garret Olson said. "And that is to provide nutritious food to people that are in need."

Olson, a retired fire chief who took on the role of CEO just a few weeks ago, is on the frontlines with workers and volunteers, working tirelessly to ship out tens of thousands of pounds of food each week.

The food bank also started delivering to 1,000 self-isolating seniors and medically fragile across the county.

"It's accounting for somewhere in the order of somewhere between 35-40,000 pounds of food just that one new program," Olson said.

The food bank can only run by the people inside its warehouse, constantly sorting, delivering, and cleaning.

Matt Leal is a planner for the county, he is one of the many full time workers sent over to the food bank to help beef up staff. He has helped deliver food to residents and sees the gratitude of those receiving the help.

"Of course all the people I have run into are very thankful and happy to have a resource like the food bank to help out in the county as well," Leal said.

Tara Davis, the volunteer and events coordinator for SLO Food Bank, says the county workers are an immense help to an increased work load.

"It's really neat because they all know what needs to get done and they are all just really excited to help out in some way," Davis said. "They've gotten to see the need here and see how busy it is and it's just been the coolest thing to have them."

The food bank has 77 different partnerships throughout the county.

Pamela Harris is part of the Morro Bay Kindness Coalition.

When she started helping three years ago, the program started as a way to feed kids at Del Mar Elementary and has grown to Cayucos, Cambria, and Los Osos. Coronavirus increased that need even more.

"We're feeding all together about 70-75 families a week right now," she said. "We've been doing it for a couple of months. It looks like its going to be through the summer."

Olson expects the county's increased food insecurities to continue.

"We're anticipating we will continue distributing food to people in need to people throughout our county at historic level for not weeks or months but potentially for years. For people this recovery we anticipate will be two years. We hope that's not the case, but that's what we are planning for."

Any donation goes a long way.

"So for one dollar, you can make seven people who are food insecure, who are hungry, you can fill their stomachs. And hopefully that fills peoples' hearts," Olson said. "Every dollar turned into the SLO Food Bank, we turn into four dollars of food. And every dollar of food given, when we get through our gleaning operations, when we go and pick in the fields, as well as through grants and donated food, we turn into seven meals."

You can text "Feed805" to 707070. You can drop off financial donations to SESLOC Federal Credit Union on Broad Street.

You can learn more about donations by clicking here. SLO Food Bank will also host a virtual tour on its Instagram.

For the same price as a monthly Netflix subscription, a donation to the SLO Food Bank provides 84 meals to neighbors in need.