One in seven people face hunger in San Luis Obispo County — many of them children.
The Food Bank Coalition serves more than 40,000 local residents each year and estimates that about 40 percent of those are children.
On Friday, the Food Bank is hosting its annual Hunger Awareness Day — hoping to raise $150,000 to continue its effort to provide nutritious food to locals in need. Last year, $96,000 was raised.
The premise of the fundraiser is simple: If every person in the county donates just $1 on one day, it would be enough to feed all 40,000 residents who receive food through a network of more than 200 partner organizations.
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Each year more than 5 million pounds of food are distributed through the Food Bank to church pantries, school programs, homeless shelters, soup kitchens and through direct distribution programs, such as Harvest Bag and the Senior Brown Bag program.
A $1 donation will pay for 10 pounds of food — the equivalent of seven meals.
Carl Hansen, executive director of the Food Bank Coalition, said the fundraiser comes at a time of year when donations are typically less. Donations account for 60 percent of the Food Bank’s $1.7 million budget.
“This fundraiser allows us to purchase adequate food for the increasing number of people who are in need,” Hansen said. “The economy is still very rough, with people still experiencing joblessness and having trouble getting jobs they can live on.”
Hansen said that people struggling financially tend to buy cheaper, unhealthier food. “Starvation in America and in our county is more malnutrition,” Hansen said.
A snapshot of the hungry in San Luis Obispo County includes people who are not able to put enough healthy food on the table to live well, parents skipping meals so that their kids can have more and seniors who cut their medication in half so they can afford to buy groceries.
The number of residents in need has grown by 25 percent in the past three years — many of whom are working but not making enough money to buy the food they need to feed their families, Hansen said.
On Friday, donation sites will be set up throughout the county. For a complete list visit www.slofoodbank.org. Donors can also mail checks to P.O. Box 2070, Paso Robles, CA 93447 or make a $10 donation by texting “feedus” to 20222, or donate by driving through or walking into any Rabobank branch in the county through Friday.
Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.