One individual can inspire others to do a lot of good. That is how Dan Sutton, general manager at Pismo Oceano Vegetable Exchange (POVE) for twenty years and board member at the Farm Bureau for twelve years, remembers his dear friend and fellow board member Hugh Pitts.
“Hugh was a great leader and a passionate advocate for our community,” explained Dan in a phone interview with the SLO Food Bank. ”For many years around Thanksgiving, he would donate a pallet of turkeys to the SLO Food Bank, so that they could be distributed to people in need within SLO County.”
When Hugh passed away in 2018, the turkey donations fell away. But one night this year, current events and the surging acts of kindness within our community reminded Dan of the tradition Hugh started and so he set out to revive it in honor of his friend.
“I wanted to make sure the support was there, but it really did not take long for people to get excited about this concept,” described Dan further, “and now I’m proud to say that every entity, including the Farm Bureau and its board members, Pismo Oceano Vegetable Exchange, Food 4 Less and the SLO Food Bank, has stepped up to make this happen.”
Brent Burchett, Executive Director at the Farm Bureau took over the logistics and communication for this project. He called several grocery stores until he connected with Food 4 Less who gave him a deal on turkeys. The entire collaboration now encompasses one pallet of turkeys as well as one pallet each for cabbage, celery and Brussels sprouts which are provided by POVE.
“We are incredibly grateful for this generous donation. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Right now, we are working hard to provide our 80 agency partners with turkeys to distribute throughout SLO County in time for Thanksgiving. We want to ensure that everyone in our community, even if they are struggling financially, can enjoy a holiday meal this year,” says SLO Food Bank’s Partner Services Manager Suzie Freeman.
Due to the pandemic, hunger in SLO County skyrocketed 154%, and now 2 in 5 SLO County residents are at risk of hunger. With the help of donors and volunteers, the SLO Food Bank and its nonprofit agency partners is working tirelessly to ensure a steady safety net for the residents of SLO County. Main efforts right now are focused on providing nutritious and wholesome meals to everyone in need during the upcoming holiday season.
“We are all honored to contribute to the welfare of our community, just as Hugh would be,” summarizes Dan. “And in the process we are also honoring our friends’ leadership and compassion. It has brought a smile to all our faces.”
About the SLO Food Bank: The SLO Food Bank is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization, serving all of San Luis Obispo County through its direct food programs and network of agency partners. The SLO Food Bank’s mission is to alleviate hunger in San Luis Obispo County and build a healthier community. The SLO Food Bank distributes an average of 4 million pounds of food per year to help our neighbors struggling with hunger. Nearly half of the distributed food is fresh produce, including produce harvested locally by the GleanSLO program. Prior to the pandemic, one in six SLO County residents was food insecure. Since the pandemic, hunger in SLO County has more than doubled, and the SLO Food Bank remains in front of this accelerating and tragic reality. To learn more about the work done by the SLO Food Bank throughout San Luis Obispo County, please visit www.slofoodbank.org.
About the Farm Bureau: Founded in 1922, the San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau is a nonprofit, voluntary membership organization dedicated to protecting San Luis Obispo County’s farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses. Learn more at slofarmbureau.org.
About the Pismo Oceano Vegetable Exchange: Located in the heart of San Luis Obispo County’s Arroyo Grande Valley, Pismo Oceano Vegetable Exchange has a proud legacy as an agricultural cooperative marketing high-quality produce grown on the Central Coast of California by Japanese farm families for over 85 years. Visit pove.net for more information.