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Heroes step in to fill the void 

Summer on the Central Coast looked very different this year as our community canceled many iconic events, including the California Mid-State Fair. In years past, the SLO Food Bank enjoyed a wonderful relationship with this annual event as meat donated from the fair's livestock auction provided 30 to 40 percent of the SLO Food Bank's annual meat protein for clients throughout SLO County. Canceling the fair jeopardized the SLO Food Bank's access to this vital supply of fresh, local meat.

Thankfully, local individuals and organizations stepped up to ensure the stability of the SLO Food Bank's access to more than 48,000 pounds of meat. This effort was the brainchild of the James W. Brabeck Youth Legacy Fund at The Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County. Donors from the county and beyond provided funds to support the fund's buyers coalition, which purchased livestock during a re-engineered auction. This effort provided much-needed meat protein to the SLO Food Bank. It also supported local 4-H and Future Farmers of America participants, who were raising their livestock for auction for months before the pandemic.

With the livestock purchased, processing the beef was the next hurdle, and many organizations came together to accomplish this final step. For beef processing, Templeton & Visalia Livestock Markets collaborated with Central Valley Meat/Harris Ranch to transport and process all donated beef at no cost to the SLO Food Bank. For hog processing, three entities came together: the James W. Brabeck Youth Legacy Fund, The Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County's Disaster Support Fund, and the Hughes Charitable Foundation. A generous couple additionally purchased 25 livestock animals and covered the processing of the meat for our clients. As our freezer is filling up with fair meat, our team is overwhelmed with gratitude.

If not for the incredible contributions of so many people and organizations, the SLO Food Bank faced a possible reality of zero protein from this important event. Those organizations and individuals who leaned in are absolute heroes to our clients and us.

Unfortunately, our county's hunger has more than doubled since the start of the pandemic and economic crisis. We anticipate the recovery will be more of a marathon than a sprint. With each donated dollar, we can provide seven nutritious meals—if you can help, please do so today at slofoodbank.org/donate.

Branna Still

SLO Food Bank

San Luis Obispo

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