The Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County sometimes receives inquiries from people who want us to place restrictions on the kind of people we serve before they will donate to us.
We don’t have the capacity to determine every person’s background. And if we did, we would be taking away from our community the most important thing that we offer those who struggle at the lowest end of our economic spectrum. The food that you help us provide is a symbol of encouragement, hope and the assurance that people care.
It is amazing how encouraging and restorative of human dignity and hope a bag of healthy food can be, depending on how it is delivered. If it is delivered in a welcoming climate of friendship, it becomes something more than food for the body.
For those in a temporary crisis, having lost their job, going through a divorce or facing huge unexpected medical bills, it becomes hope for better times to come and the assurance that they will get through this hardship. Many of our volunteers at the Food Bank are people who were in those circumstances at some point in their lives and remember how much it meant for them and their family to get food when the money ran out.
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For others who are faced with the reality of a physical or mental limit-ation that prevents the hope of providing for themselves and who are no longer receiving adequate help from government programs that have been slashed in these economic times, a bag of food can be the assurance that they will be able to pay more of their rent, make a payment on their medical bills or keep the electricity from being cut off. Knowing that such food is available to them increases their sense of well-being, an important part of staying as healthy as possible.
We recognize the social and political aspects of helping those in need, but we only see people in desperate need of food. Yes, there may be some who find themselves in dire straights because of their own mistakes and poor judgment. That doesn’t make them or their children less hungry.
Charity has nothing to do with worthiness; it is about caring, pure and simple. We think about how children are much more ready to learn at school when they are well fed. About how adults are better able to find and keep a job when they have proper nourishment. And that all of us on the Central Coast (kids, adults and seniors) need less medical care and live healthier, more fulfilling lives when there’s healthy food available to us.
On Sunday, Sept. 26, we are hosting hunger walks around the county at seven locations: Paso Robles, Cambria, Atascadero, San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, Los Osos and Grover Beach. You can go to our website, www.slofoodbank.org, sign up to be a walker and then ask your family and friends to sponsor you.
We’ll send you a packet and a T-shirt right away. Or, if time is short, you can simply show up on the day of the walks with your donations and receive your T-shirt and join in the fun raising money for the Food Bank. Or if you would like, you can raise money for another emergency food agency in our county that works with the food bank. It’s all explained on the website.
The theme of our 2010 Hunger Walks is “It’s Good for the Sole.” To help provide food to the 40,000 people in our county who are food insecure is good for you, good for them and good for our whole community.
And remember, it’s a good investment too, because for every $10 you raise, we can provide 100 pounds of food or 70 meals for a neighbor in need.
Carl R. Hansen is the executive director of the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County.