ALF Food Pantry has been named Community Organization of the Year by the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce. Formerly known as Atascadero Loaves and Fishes, the nonprofit has been providing groceries free of charge for more than 30 years. Their humble beginnings took shape in the basement of a local church and is now located at 5411 El Camino Real in Atascadero. 

We spoke with the ALF Food Pantry President Tim Eckles to learn more about their organization’s role in the community and what it means for their contributions to be recognized by the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce.

What motivates your nonprofit to engage with the Atascadero community?

The need for food and support for those living on marginal incomes in our community.


Can you share a significant milestone or achievement that your organization has accomplished in the last few years?

During the pandemic, we were able to adapt to increased demands for services, which have nearly doubled since 2019. Our doors never closed during those difficult times. In 2023, we distributed the equivalent of 306,000 meals to our clients, a third of whom are children. That’s nearly half a million pounds of quality food.

What does it mean for you to earn recognition as Community Organization of the Year?

It is the nature of ALF Food Pantry volunteers to be humble as they serve those in need. This recognition brings with it the satisfaction the Atascadero surrounding communities value our service. Every day our doors are open represents our reward.

What are some ongoing challenges your organization faces in addressing the needs of the Atascadero community, and how do you plan to overcome them?

Our nonprofit food pantry operation depends primarily on private individual donations. ALF earns this support because we offer consistent services to our dependent clients. To sustain our operation despite increasing demands, we must find/purchase a new efficient, more spacious facility. We are also maintain our association with the SLO Food Bank to obtain the lowest cost quality food available.

Can you discuss any upcoming initiatives or events that your nonprofit will be organizing in Atascadero to continue its community-building efforts?

ALF will continue to be an active Atascadero Chamber of Commerce member. We are hosting the Chamber’s Membership Mixer at our facility on May 16.

Looking ahead, what are your nonprofit’s goals and aspirations for its continued involvement and contribution to Atascadero?

A new facility is crucial to sustaining services. We maintain relationships with several essential service nonprofits who would consider co-locating with us. While we search for a new facility, we are also working to build our reserve investments which are designated for the new building. We also need continuous monetary and food donations and volunteers to run our operation.


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