SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- For 30 years, God's Store House has been lending a helping hand to people in need in San Luis Obispo and surrounding communities.
"God's Store House is a food pantry open to public on a weekly basis, 52 weeks a year, every Saturday morning at Grace Church and provide all the staples for family needs," said God's Store House chairman Andrew Daymude. "We're serving anyone in the public with a need. Probably over half of our population is in homeless category."
The outreach program is operated by Grace Central Coast church, at its San Luis Obispo location on Osos Street.
It's one of more than 80 agency partners that work with the SLO Food Bank to provide assistance to the thousands of people that suffer food insecurity daily in San Luis Obispo County.
Daymude pointed out they help out several hundred people each week during their food distribution.
He added due to COVID-19, the need has never been greater.
"The demographic has shifted a bit in this time," said Daymude. "We're serving everything from the business community that has either been out of a job to the homeless population to our elderly population."
Those hit especially hard have been people that are in a high-risk category for the virus, such as the elderly.
To reach that population, God's Store House started a home delivery program in April, which distributes food throughout the entire county.
"It's such a blessing to serve those in our community who are in need," said Julie Theule, a longtime volunteer. "It's just a blessing to look at someone in the eye and help them along with their bags and really make their day."
For those who still pick up food in person on Saturdays, they receive food at a "farmer's marke style" distribution in the church courtyard.
"We have a full grocery line," said Daymude. "We have really nice protein. We get red meat, white meat from the local grocery stores. They get whole milk, skim milk, eggs, dairy, fresh produce, all the way through to breads, desserts, and it's really a full plentiful. They leave with just hands full, everything that they can carry to pretty much fill the need for an entire week."
Each fall, they also distribute full Thanksgiving meals to families as well.
"It's so cool," said Thuele. "Our church family comes together. We have mashed potatoes and Martinelli's and pumpkin pie and all sorts of things that really make people feel special."
God's Store House is just one of many SLO Food Bank agency partners that will benefit from contributions made to the KCOY NewsChannel 12 Turkey Drive.
Donations will go directly to clients of God's Store House and many other local non-profits that partner with SLO Food Bank and Good Samaritan Shelter in Santa Barbara County.
"We're reliant on generosity of the community that we work with," said SLO Food Bank Partner Services Manager Suzanne Freeman. "With COVID-19 we're not able to get as many food donations that we usually get. We're entirely reliant on monetary donations right now.
God's Store House has a goal to provide 120 meals this year to its clients.
"People are so full of gratitude and it's just a joyous day and they have something to look forward to with their family." said Thuele. "The adage it's better to give than to receive is true and it's just a blessing to be part of that and to see the smiles on the kids faces and it's a just a wonderful time. Being able to love on someone, care for them, make them feel important is just a blessing all around."
For more information or to donate, visit the KCOY NewsChannel 12 Turkey Drive webpage.
Donations can also be made by texting @KCOY TURKEY to 520-14.