Letter referenced quote from Karl Marx 

SAN LUIS OBISPO — On Tuesday morning, Jan. 4, Paso Robles Press/Atascadero News received an open letter from an SLO Food Bank Community Programs Coordinator, Kody Cava, titled ‘An Open Letter to Our Food Banks Regarding Food Equity.’

Within the 16 page letter, Cava accuses the food bank system of putting fundraising first and anti-hunger cause second. 

Cava writes in his open letter that was sent out on the SLO Food Bank’s letterhead, “we have a [food banks] system that is completely beyond democratic control due to its private structure, is utterly reliant upon the status quo out of fear of losing revenue streams, and is therefore unable to affect any meaningful change in the community that could actually reduce food insecurity. And the more I work in this field, the more that outcome seems to be exactly the point of the entire endeavor.”

Getting through this together, Atascadero

Later in the letter, Cava says, “So long as food banks view their role as a narrow mission of simply passing

boxes of food to people, over and over again, nothing will ever change, in fact, it will only get worse because our nonprofits will be built around a steady stream of “clients,” and those clients better keep coming or else we won’t be getting our paychecks anymore.”

Cava ends the letter with the following statement: “The situation we find ourselves in is not the result of simple neglect. It is not incompetence. It is not even policy failure. It is murder. It is murder because it is designed. It is murder by degrees because a choice was made by the ruling class to extinguish life rather than sanctify it. It is murder, finally, because profit is considered more important than our lives and our survival. Until this reality is reckoned with by the organizations that should ostensibly concern themselves with food insecurity and its root causes, until these odious forces are named for what they are – forces of control and social death – and until anti-hunger organizations grow a backbone and stand up against this gargantuan and reckless madness that is pushing each and every one of us to the brink, our food banks will continue to be a part of the problem, not the solution.”

The letter was signed only by Cava and included a quote from Karl Marx at the end of the page: “You Christians have a vested interest in unjust structures which produce victims to whom you then can pour out your hearts in charity.” 

Paso Robles Press/Atascadero News reached out to SLO Food Bank to see if the open letter was sent as an official statement from the leadership and Board of Directors, the Chief Executive Officer Garret Olson responded with the following statement:  

“I wanted to close the loop with you regarding an email that was sent to you this morning from a SLO Food Bank email account. I apologize for any confusion this message may have created, as it does not represent the official position of the SLO Food Bank.

We support the rights of all employees to maintain deeply held personal beliefs. Often, it is that passion that brings people to choose a career of meaningful service in our community. Because we employ such wonderfully passionate employees, we ensure that all members of our team understand that their personal beliefs are just that, personal. As such, our employees are aware that it is inappropriate to use SLO Food Bank resources to espouse their personal beliefs. This morning a member of our team distributed an email in violation of our well-established understanding of these rules. Again, I apologize to all who received this email and for any confusion this message may have created.

If you have any questions about the compassionate mission of the SLO Food Bank, please feel free to reach out to me directly. At a historic rate, the SLO Food Bank continues to alleviate hunger and enhance the health and hope of our most vulnerable neighbors throughout SLO County. We are dedicated to that vital mission, and we couldn’t do it with you. Thank you.”