On the eve of this year’s Food Bank Coalition Hunger Awareness Day, which is Friday, here’s some food for thought:
One in six San Luis Obispo County residents reached out for help with their food needs last year.
Some 400,000 visits or requests for assistance were made in 2011 through coalition nonprofit partnerships, with 225 programs such as Harvest Bag, Emergency Food Assistance, Healthy Foods For Local Families, Senior Brown Bag, Lovin’ Lunchbox and Back Pack Snack Pack.
40 percent of Food Bank recipients were younger than 18 last year.
Bonnie Allen, whom I’ve used as a resource in the past, offers the following advice if you or yours are going hungry, or if you know of others who need help making nutritional ends meet. (You may want to cut this out and save it as a reference).
First, the Food Bank Coalition has distribution sites and agencies throughout the county. Contact your local Senior Center, Community Center or Salvation Army or call the Food Bank at 238-4664 for a distribution site in your area.
You can also check at the coalition’s website at SLOFoodBank.org.
You can review the Harvest Bag program, Emergency Food Assistance program, Healthy Foods For Local Families, Senior Brown Bag, Lovin’ Lunchbox and Back Pack Snack Pack, as well as find out how to contact the CalFresh coordinator.
By going through the coordinator, you will save time and get an appointment with county Social Services faster. She can prequalify you on her laptop.
Check with churches in your area for food distributions, free potlucks or emergency food pantries.
Locate your nearest Salvation Army or Loaves and Fishes. Call to see what towns they serve and what their services and hours are. Ask about their monthly food box.
Seniors and the disabled can get hot lunches weekdays at their local Senior Center for free or with a small donation. Check with your closest Senior Center or call the Senior Nutrition Program in San Luis Obispo at 541-3312. Check on their website for the current month’s menu.
Senior shut-ins should check on the Meals on Wheels program for healthy lunches delivered daily during the week. Information is available at your Senior Center or by calling the Senior Nutrition Program.
There is a yearly program available to the seniors that will be starting sometime in July. It is the senior farmers market voucher program.
Qualifying seniors can receive a $20 book of vouchers in $2 increments good at most farmers markets in the county. Check at the Senior Nutrition kitchen at the senior center in your area. These vouchers are limited, so if you earn more than $20,147 for one person, do not apply.
One- or two-day-old bread can be purchased for as little as $1 at the San Luis Sourdough retail outlet at 3877 Long St. in San Luis Obispo. It is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (closed for lunch) and 2 to 5:30 p.m. Call 782-8933.
If you have use of a computer and printer, start checking online with your favorite food manufacturer. For example, if you Google “Harris Ranch Beef coupon,” you can print out a $2 coupon good on their beef. Check other high-dollar items for savings.
For new moms having trouble fitting formula into the weekly budget, contact ALPHA Pregnancy and Parenting Support in San Luis Obispo at 541-3357. It can also help with prenatal vitamins, free diapers and other services.
If you have pets and go to one of the food distribution programs, always ask if they have pet food. Oftentimes they do, but you might have to ask because availability will vary from time to time.
Hunger Awareness Day: How you can donate locally
Last year’s Hunger Awareness Day raised $152,000 — $60,000 more than the previous year because of increased need. Every dollar that’s donated provides 10 pounds of food or seven meals.
This year’s Hunger Awareness Day is Friday. Here is where you can donate:
Go online to www.slofoodbank.org, call 238-4664 or visit any local Rabobank branch office.
Donations can also be mailed to: Food Bank Coalition, P.O. Box 2070. Paso Robles, 93447
Donation sites around the county:
San Luis Obispo
SLO Farmers Market, tonight, downtown
Santa Barbara Bank, 995 Higuera St.
Food 4 Less, 3985 Higuera St.
New Frontiers, 1531 Froom Ranch Way
Sierra Vista, 1010 Murray Ave.
Albertsons, 1132 W. Branch St., Arroyo Grande
Doc Burnstein’s, 114 W. Branch St., Arroyo Grande
Vons, 1758 W. Grand Ave., Grover Beach
Vons, 520 W. Tefft St.
Food 4 Less, 8360 El Camino Real
Kmart, 3980 El Camino Real
Albertsons, 8200 El Camino Real
Rabobank, 6950 El Camino Real
Food 4 Less, 1465 Creston Road
Vons, 1191 Creston Road
Rabobank, 845 Spring St.
Post Office, 800 Sixth St.
Walmart, 180 Niblick Rd.
Ancient Peaks Winery, 22720 El Camino Real
Mission Market & Deli, 1402 Mission St.
Cambria Drug, 2222 Main St.
Albertsons, 730 Quintana Rd., Morro Bay
Ralph’s, 1240 Los Osos Valley Road, Los Osos
Post Office, 97 Ash Ave., Cayucos