Our distributions stretch as far South as Nipomo where residents have a chance to receive food once every week. Every 3rd Tuesday, our food truck stops at Trader Joes in Arroyo Grande to pick up grocery rescues before heading to the distribution site at the Senior Center. Recipients are usually given a full produce bag plus a bag of nutritious shelf stable items as well as fresh bread.
While people are waiting patiently in line, one thing becomes clear: they all enjoy living here. “This is a wonderful community of people. We have friendly neighbors and everybody just gets along with everybody,” comments a retired couple who has just moved to the Central Coast from Fresno. They proudly announce that they can make the food from one distribution last up to 15 days.
Among others that showed up is Yolanda with her great-grandchild Larely whom she babysits during the week. She tells us that her granddaughter lives with her because the family can’t afford anything else. The food they receive from the distribution provides meals for days for the whole family.
Closer to the end of line we are greeted with inquisitive eyes from an older lady. She introduces herself as Shirley and eagerly notes, “Nipomo is such a nice little place. I lived in Los Angeles in my younger years, but there it’s rough and tough, here it’s quiet and peaceful.” Shirley further explains that she does not have enough money to buy food because she sends half of her retirement pay to her financially unstable sister in Texas. In order to take care of herself, she has been gladly accepting the support from us for about one year now.
“What amazes me the most is how generous the Food Bank is,” she says with a sincere voice. “I know that in Los Angeles they make you fill out forms on top of forms, but here you are not required to identify yourself. In fact, the Food Bank here does not feel like a charity at all, but rather like a family. Everyone is so welcoming and willing to help. It’s a very nice feeling when you come and are greeted so kindly. I usually get my fresh produce here at the Senior Center and canned or sealed products at the St. Joseph’s Church earlier in the month. I don’t waste anything at all. If something needs to be eaten quickly, I just make stew. Oh, and the bread is so good, it lasts me a month in the freezer.”
One by one, they are all able to walk away with several bags of nutritious items. But even after giving everybody their fair share of food, there is still a good amount of groceries on the table. “We are not done yet. The school across the streets starts at 9. Now we wait for the parents to stop by and pick up whatever is left,” says Pam, one of the volunteers, with a smile on her face. Together with Ed, Liz and Roy she sticks around to make sure everybody gets a chance to receive help. It’s exactly this mindset that shines through in the spirit of Nipomo: Look out for one another!