By Kevin Drabinski, Chief Executive Officer
Every corner of our county has its story to tell, its claim to some extraordinary event or movement.
Paso Robles has many highlights from its historic past, but one that it can certainly be proud of is its distinction as our birthplace – The Food Bank Coalition which serves San Luis Obispo County.
Inspired in part by its rural setting, Paso Robles has long been populated by independent people who also see that a community thrives when it cares for a neighbor until they can get back on their feet.
Back in 1989, Paso Robles was where a small cadre of volunteers formalized efforts at seeing to it that vulnerable populations, especially children and seniors, had reliable access to healthy and nutritious food.
From these early chapters, we have extended our reach and today distributions take place in communities from San Miguel to Nipomo, and San Simeon to California Valley.
Last year 5 million pounds of food was distributed throughout the county, with 40% of it going to children and another 20% to seniors. Over half of the food distributed was fresh produce which helps advance vital public health outcomes.
Specialized programming, like farmer’s markets for children, gets the message of nutrition across to up and coming generations.
If one were to look for a distinctive present-day feature of our work that can be attributed to its community of origin, it would have to be the home grown attitude that says, “We take care of our own.”
That Paso spirit lives on in the care extended by the amazing 4,700 volunteers who helped out last year in our GleanSLO program, with nutrition education outreach, and at the operations warehouse.
That spirit also lives on in the almost 90 nonprofits in the county who us as an economically viable way to source wholesome nutritious food for their own distributions.
This coalition effort and the Paso Robles spirit enables us to reach 14,000 households and 30,000 individuals every month.
Paso Robles is a can do community, brimming with neighbors who are proud of their independence. Thanks to that first impetus, we carry on very much in that original style. Only now it’s not just Paso Robles, it’s a whole county who is able to show, “We take care of our own.”