In San Luis Obispo County, one in six residents struggles with hunger. 40% of those residents are children under the age of 18. The Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County (SLO Food Bank) has been working hard to alleviate hunger and build a healthier community since 1989. “We believe that everyone has a right to nutritious food, and we work hard with our network of community partners to provide food that is both fresh and rich in nutrients,” says Wendy Lewis, COO of SLO Food Bank.
The mission to provide healthy and sustainable food to SLO County children is evident in their multitude of programs, which include a Children’s Farmers Market, a Summer Lunch Program and a Breakfast in the Classroom program. “Especially, in the summer months, we try and expand our programs to reach as many children as possible, because many students who rely on meals from school are left hungry.” Says Heather Donovan, Children’s Program Manager.
This year, a grant from Hunger Is, a joint initiative between The Albertsons Companies Foundation, doing business as the Vons Foundation in this area, with the Entertainment Industry Foundation, both 501(c)(3) organizations, which was made possible by donations from customers at local Vons and Albertsons stores, helped launch a new summer breakfast bag program at SLO Food Bank. “The impact of this grant and this new program has already been tremendous,” exclaims Wendy Lewis. “With the help of Vons and Albertson’s volunteers, we were able to pack and distribute 100,000 breakfasts in 3,000 bags to children in our community, who otherwise wouldn’t have access to breakfast.”
“The bags are good because they have bread and apples that I can make breakfast with.” – Jaxson, 1st grade
“One of the issues we face during the summer is that it’s hard to get kids to our summer programs because they are so spread out and don’t have reliable transportation,” says Aracely Aceves Lozano, Director of Community Relations. “This grant gave us the ability to craft a program that would get breakfast to as many children and their families as possible.”
“The volunteers from Vons and Albertson’s were some of the hardest working volunteers we’ve ever had,” says Heather Donovan. “I think most people in our county are surprised to hear how many children suffer from hunger especially during the summer. When the volunteers arrived, they immediately set up an assembly line and got to work. I think they were impressed at the amount of food we were able to provide in each bag.”
“I’m really excited because I like cereal. Breakfast is the best meal.
My Dad hasn’t got a chance to buy oatmeal;
he is going to be super happy.” – Hailey, 1st grade
With the help of donors like you, grants like this one are making a significant impact on the long-term health of children in communities across the United States. “These grants help food banks like ours start new, innovative programs that continue to increase access to more nutritious food for children suffering from hunger,” says Wendy Lewis. It is this kind of teamwork that will one day help bring childhood hunger in America to an end.