PASO ROBLES – The newly-appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County, Kevin Drabinski, has big plans for the Central Coast.
Drabinksi was announced as the new CEO of the Food Bank Coalition of SLO County on Feb. 15.
While the issue of food scarcity is one that is not necessarily lighthearted or easy to address, Drabinski intends to approach hunger in as holistic a manner as possible.
While San Luis Obispo County has made a name for itself as the “happiest place in America,” people often overlook that that happiness comes with several costs. According to a recent survey by Career Trends, the overall cost of living in SLO County is approximately 20 percent higher than the national average. Of the 31 different locations included in the Economic Policy Institute’s dataset for California, the San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles metropolitan area is rated as the thirteenth most expensive.
“I think two things are true in this county (regarding) food scarcity,” Drabinski said. “The first is that people probably underestimate the number of people who at one time or another during the year will not have the means to acquire adequate sources of food — one in six people in our county will face this issue. The flip side of this is that most people may (also) underestimate the number of people working to alleviate these conditions.”
The Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo hopes to alleviate hunger in both North and South County by, first and foremost, raising awareness and better educating the community.
“Community members can run to our website at slofoodbank.org for a comprehensive schedule of our (120 different) neighborhood food distributions, local pantries and meal sites throughout the county,” Drabinski said. “People can pass that information along or contact us for information on how to become a volunteer.”
While it is surely difficult to make a difference as an individual, there is a lot of satisfaction in the work, Drabinski said. And often times all it takes to make a significant change is the opportunity to work together as a team.
“It is completely accurate to say that thousands of people step forward to help,” Drabinski said. “People might not know that almost 50 percent of the food we distribute is fresh produce. (For example,) the Glean SLO program helps this effort by gathering together farmers, community volunteers, backyard gardeners, health advocates and food providers to harvest and donate excess produce into our local food system.”
While the Food Bank recently closed its warehouses in Paso Robles and Oceano and consolidated into one warehouse, located at 1180 Kendall Road in San Luis Obispo, both parts of the county have remained heavily involved, and have made it their ultimate goal to provide families with meals and create those intimate moments where family bonds are knit a little bit tighter.
“I encourage Paso Robles and the entire North County to continue taking great pride in their longstanding efforts to shore up the social fabric of our county,” Drabinski said.
For more information on the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County, call 805-238-4664.