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Seniors receiving fresh produce through SLO Food Bank program

Fresh fruits and vegetables are the staples of a healthy diet, especially for seniors. Thanks to a program through the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County, seniors in need have an opportunity each month to pick up much needed produce.

“‘Senior Farmers Market’ is where we try and replicate what it’s like at a farmers market,” said Food Bank CEO Carl Hansen. “Seniors pick the food they want, instead of taking a bag of things that sometimes they don’t like, or they can’t cook or maybe they’re allergic to.”

The farmers market is held at eight different locations throughout the county. It’s specifically targeted for seniors that are typically unable to attend regular Food Bank distributions due to lack of transportation, medical conditions or other reasons.

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Besides handing out nutritious food, Hansen said the program provides a value social opportunity as well.

“There’s value of socializing and coming to senior centers or senior residencies, where they can have fun and do this thing together with their neighbors,” said Hansen. “It’s really a way of building up their value and letting them know that the community hasn’t forgotten them and is grateful for them.”

For seniors, such as Paso Robles resident John Shepard, receiving food without charge helps him stretch out his limited budget.

“It reduces the cost to me on regular basis and it helps me out,” said Shepard. “My funds go farther, my food goes farther.”

Like Shepard, Carol Pawlik of Paso Robles, also attends the monthly market at the Paso Robles Senior Center.

“The apples and the oranges and the pears are wonderful,” said Pawlik.

Like Shepard, Pawlik says the market helps her maximize a limited income.

“You normally go to the grocery store to pick up things, but these are the necessities that you don’t have to pick up there, and then maybe you can buy something else extra,” said Pawlik.

Much the produce given out is grown locally. In fact, some of it comes through the GleanSLO program, which collects unwanted or surplus produce at area farms, orchards, backyards and other locations.

“It’s fresh,” said Hansen. “They have the knowledge that someone in their community went out and harvested that food for them and brought it to them.”

Hansen notes the Food Bank distributes about three million pounds of fresh produce annually, including 200,000 pounds that’s gleaned.

Later this month, Food Bank will team up with KCOY 12 Central Coast News to take part in the annual KCOY Turkey Drive. The drive is an all-day effort to collect turkeys to help those in need who might go without a turkey dinner during the holiday.

The KCOY Turkey Drive will be held Thursday, Nov. 17 from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Those who would like to donate can visit drop-off locations at the KCOY studios in Santa Maria (1211 W. McCoy Lane), Lompoc City Hall, California Fresh Market in Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo, the new Food Bank warehouse in San Luis Obispo (1180 Kendall Rd.) and Albertsons in Paso Robles.

Turkeys, non-perishable food and monetary donations collected in San Luis Obispo County will benefit Food Bank, while donations taken in Santa Barbara County will help out Good Samaritan Shelter.

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