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St. Patrick’s Outreach helping feed people in need in Five Cities area

For more than 25 years, St. Patrick’s Outreach in Arroyo Grande has been a consistent helping hand for people that are looking for assistance in the Five Cities community.

“Our outreach is basically to help people with need,” said Katie Hilton of St. Patrick’s Outreach. “We give out food three days a week. We think everybody deserves enough food to eat and a place to live.”

Hilton adds the help includes much more than just food.

“We also help people with emergency situations with utilities or gas vouchers and other needs that they may have,” Hilton said.

Each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, volunteers hand out food at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, providing a much-needed boost for hundreds of families and individuals that are among the thousands in San Luis Obispo County battling food insecurity.

“We serve close to 300 families each month, giving them supplemental food,” said Hilton. “We give out mostly bread and produce and then, once a month, they can go inside and get meat and eggs and pasta and peanut butter and jelly, that kind of thing.”

Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo provides much of food St. Patrick’s Outreach hands out.

“We purchase from the Food Bank,” said Hilton. “We couldn’t do this without the Food Bank because they give us a good price on the food that we purchase and some of the food we get is free from the Food Bank.”

St. Patrick’s Outreach is one of about 90 agency partners that work with the San Luis Obispo-based non-profit organization.

“We make it economically viable for them to source food,” said Food Bank CEO Kevin Drabinski.”They’re able to stretch into every community that we compliment into other communities and we’re able to throw a blanket over the whole county, so where ever there is need in the county, the Food Bank is somehow being a source for one of these agency partners. They’re the arms and legs and extension that we need to make sure that people have reliable access to healthy, nutritious food.”

Paulette Messenheimer is one of many South County residents that rely on the Outreach to help stretch her monthly budget.

The retired teacher lives in Grover Beach with her husband. She said she’s been coming to this food distribution site for about 10 years.

“I had a really nice job and I had an accident and it put me out of work and into a wheelchair for quite a while, Messenheimer said. “It is tough. When you’re a senior and you’re retired, you’re on a limited income and this place just saves us.”

Messenheimer is grateful that she is able to receive fresh fruits and vegetables.

She said it’s especially important since her husband has a restrictive diet due to illness.

“The food cost is so high now and they have all these fresh vegetables and all this wonderful food that is donated here and the people that work here are awesome!” said Messenheimer. “If we didn’t have them, we would not be eating so healthy and that’s very important for us now because my husband had a very serious illness and I have to cook everything from scratch.”

St. Patrick’s Outreach clients are among the many that stand to benefit from the upcoming KCOY Turkey Drive.

Turkeys collected during the all-day event on Thursday, Nov. 15 will help out Food Bank agency clients, such as those with St. Patrick’s Outreach.

“The turkeys that we’re able to collect on Turkey Drive go right into our agency partners and into distribution to families in need every where around the county,” said Drabinski.

The KCOY Turkey Drive will be held Thursday, Nov. 15 from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at various locations.

Turkeys, non-perishable food and monetary donations will be accepted at the KCOY building in Santa Maria, Grocery Outlet in Lompoc, California Fresh Market in Pismo Beach, Food Bank Coalition of San Luis County headquarters in San Luis Obispo and Vons in Atascadero.

Collections in San Luis Obispo County benefit Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County.

Collections in Santa Barbara County benefit Good Samaritan Shelter.

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