Grocery Outlet, ALF team up for drive

Atascadero Loaves and Fishes food pantry accept a check from the Atascadero Grocery Outlet with collected donations, Aug. 2. (photo by Camas Frank)

ATASCADERO — The end of July marked the end of the largest community donation event for the Atascadero Loaves and Fishes (ALF) food pantry on El Camino Real, with volunteers happily accepting a check for $12,802 from the local Grocery Outlet store.

Owners of the store Pete and Theresa Novak explained that they regularly accept for safekeeping individual community donations from the public to the charity as a community service, but this check was the result of a focused effort over a month asking customers to give.

Cashier Ron Simmons was persistent with his regular customers, soliciting $5,400 from the public as the largest individual fundraiser.

Simmons handed the actual check, in a sealed envelope, to an ALF board member on Aug. 2, with the pantry manager and volunteers receiving the traditional photo-ready novelty check presentation from the Novaks.

Customers were able to redeem coupons for store credit while the promotion lasted, as well as donate items to the pantry directly.

The ALF food pantry distributes groceries and other household items, donated and bought, to those in need across a belt of the North County. Clients are assessed based on need in a short interview when they arrive and come from throughout Atascadero, Templeton, Santa Margarita, Creston, and California Valley.

There are 120 volunteers approximately working with ALF at any one time, and staff noted, despite the name, they’re a secular organization dedicated to feeding those in need. Volunteers added that one of the most rewarding parts of the “job” is in seeing people get back on their feet and return to volunteer themselves.

The location at 5411El Camino Real, while impressively stocked and maintained, is not ideal, however, notes ALF President Tim Eckles.

In their Summer 2019 newsletter, he explains that ALF is on the hunt for a new and expanded location, having outgrown the 2,400 square foot space they’ve occupied since 1995.

A search group and marketing strategy have been assembled to get the word out to those who may be able to provide a more suitable warehouse and office suite than the two business condos allow off El Camino.

Until anything changes on that front, the pantry is one on normal weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. for food distributions or anyone looking to lend a hand can email

Open since 2011 at their current location the Novaks’ Grocery Outlet partnership won the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce 2017 business of the year award and they’re locally owned and operated store has great latitude to conduct their own giving and outreach events under the Grocery Outlet brand.

They plan to continue supporting ALF with discounts and similar funding drives, to make sure they’re, “well taken care of,” Pete Novak said, as well as their notable support for the Police Department’s K-9 units and law enforcement outreach.


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