Veteran inmates at the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo hosted a food drive over Memorial Day weekend. They pooled together donations from themselves and their families, and prison guards helped purchase the food.
Organizers of the drive reached out to the Veterans' Services Office in San Luis Obispo County and now the donations are being made available to veterans in need, those who are unhoused, and those facing food insecurity. Anyone can visit the new food pantry.
Chris Emert, the Administrative Services Officer at the County Veterans Services Office, told KSBY, “They reached out to us, said, 'Hey, we have 450 pounds of food, how would you like it?' And so we were like, we went out there to load it all up into Morgan's truck and brought it back and had to find storage for it.”
The new food pantry is located at the Veterans' Hall Memorial Museum in San Luis Obispo and is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Nipomo Chapter donated the pantry structure.
“Right now, it is a pilot program to see how well it is received among the community. But so far in the last couple of days, it's been utilized. So we see it going, keeping it going forward,” Emert said.
People do not need to provide documentation or even interact with the staff in order to access the pantry.
“I guess our only requirement is to take what you need... So that way there's still stuff available for other families or veterans that need items as well,” Emert added.
People can donate nonperishable food or hygiene products, as well as cash or check donations to help replenish the pantry.
Later this month, the County will hold a plaque dedication event for the veteran inmates at the Men's Colony as a thank-you for their work in organizing the food drive.