Summer on the Central Coast looked different this year as many iconic community events and gatherings canceled, including the California Mid-State Fair. In years past, the SLO Food Bank enjoyed a relationship with the Mid-State Fair as meat donated from the Fair’s livestock auction provided 30-40% of the SLO Food Bank’s annual meat protein for clients throughout San Luis Obispo County. The cancellation of the Fair jeopardized the SLO Food Bank’s access to this supply of fresh, local meat.

Local individuals and organizations stepped up to ensure the stability of the SLO Food Bank’s access to over 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 throughout the County and beyond provided funds to support the Fund’s Buyer’s 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 months before the pandemic. According to the James W. Brabeck Youth Legacy Fund, all 567 exhibitors at this year’s Fair benefited from the Fund’s Buyer’s Coalition.

With the livestock purchased, processing the beef meat was the next hurdle, and many organizations came together to accomplish this final step. For beef meat processing, Templeton and 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.

Three entities came together for hog processing — the James W. Brabeck Youth Legacy Fund, The Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County’s Disaster Support Fund, and the Hughes Charitable Foundation.

Over the coming weeks, SLO Food Bank will begin receiving 48,000 pounds of meat packaged for rapid distribution through the organization’s direct distribution sites and 77 partner agencies.

“SLO Food Bank is about more than just providing food to those who need it in our community, it is about providing nutritious food,” said SLO Food Bank CEO Garret Olson. “We rely on the protein from the livestock auction to round out the fresh produce, whole grains, and other healthy food items that provide balanced nutrition. If not for the incredible contributions of so many people and organizations, the SLO Food Bank faced a very possible reality of zero protein from this important event. With the strength of our community, we will receive thousands of pounds of local, vital protein for our clients in need. Hunger has more than doubled in our County since the pandemic. Those organizations and individuals who leaned in are absolutely heroes to us and our clients. Thank you for your generosity and compassion.”

Getting through this together, Atascadero