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Turkey Drive: Five Cities Christian Women providing food for people in need in south SLO County

Five Cities Christian Women food pantry
Five Cities Christian Women food pantry distributes food to about 2,000 people each month (Dave Alley/KEYT)

GROVER BEACH, Calif. -- For nearly 50 years, the Five Cities Christian Women have been making a big impact in fighting hunger in South San Luis Obispo County.

For two hours each weekday, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., the non-profit group runs a food pantry on S. Ninth Street in Grover Beach.

"We serve anyone who comes if they bring an ID from the Five Cities area," said co-president Cindy Price. "We ask no questions. We don't ask about income or anything. We don't judge people. We just serve them."

The distribution allows people in need to take home much-needed groceries twice a month.

"It can be individuals," said Price. "It can be families, large and small. Anyone who comes, we serve without question."

The group has about 100 volunteers, including women and men.

"Love for people, wanting to help them," said Price, when asked why the volunteers serve with the organization. "We're really blessed and we want to give to our community. It is important for us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves and I really believe that's what our ministry is."

The Five Cities Christian Women was founded in 1973 by a group of local women on National Prayer Day.

Over the next several decades, the women (and men) have helped provide food for thousands of clients.

Price said they currently provide food to about 2,000 people each month.

One of those is Garrett Matueski, who picked up a couple of bags of food Monday afternoon.

"I'm homeless," said Matueski. "I'm hungry. I'm hungry everyday."

Matueski said he's been coming to the food pantry for about three months.

"I'm very grateful," said Matueski. "Truly, it's their smile is what brings a joy to my heart."

The Five Cities Christian Women is one of about 80 agency partners that works with the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County.

"We rely on our agency partners, like the Five Cities Christian Women," said Food Bank Director of Operations Tim Parker. "We rely on donors in the community to help us out, either with financial donations or to donate a turkey through the Turkey Drive this season. That's the only way we stay in business. It's the only way that we keep providing services to people."

Many clients with the various agency partners receive turkeys during the holiday season from the Food Bank Coalition, which are collected through the KCOY Turkey Drive.

Parker said Food Bank is looking to provide up to 1,500 turkeys to about 40 different agency partners.

"Everyone deserves to feel the same dignity," said Parker. "Everyone deserves that opportunity to reflect on the love and the connections in their life and to celebrate, and of course in the holiday season around the dinner table, that's a common way that we do that."

As it has in the past, the Five Cities Christian Women will receive turkeys this year for some of its clients.

"Turkeys are such a tradition for families to have and they are expensive to buy for a family, so to be able to come here and get a turkey here, it means a lot to our families," Price said.

The community can help out people in need with donations at the this month's KCOY Turkey Drive.

"Just give," said Matueski. "If you guys have extra money to spare, just help out. People who give back, it's gracious to my heart."

The Turkey Drive is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 21 from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Donations will be collected at the following locations:

*KCOY studios in Santa Maria
*Grocery Outlet Bargain Market in Lompoc
*California Fresh Market in Pismo Beach
*Food Bank Coalition of SLO County in San Luis Obispo
*Vons in San Luis Obispo
*Vons in Atascadero

All donations collected in Northern Santa Barbara County benefit Good Samaritan Shelter, while those collected in San Luis Obispo County go towards the Food Bank Coalition.

For more information, visit the KCOY Turkey Drive website

Community / Events / Food / News / San Luis Obispo County / Top Stories / What's Right

Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at KCOY|KEYT|KKFX.