NEW TIMES: What particular need does the Food Bank have now?
HANSEN: Our main need is for donated food, in that our sources of low- cost food have dried up due to food’s increasing cost. Our supply agencies have to pay a lot more for food.
NEW TIMES: What issues are the most pressing?
HANSEN: Our most pressing issue is for donations to cover our escalating operating costs. Our administrative costs account for only 4% of our budget, and we’re able to donate much of our food for free but have to pay freight and administrative costs to get it to distribution agencies.
NEW TIMES: Has there been an increase in clientele recently?
HANSEN: We’re averaging about a 25% increase across the county, with about 35,000 people being regularly served on an annual basis. About half of our clients are families with children, and we’ve seen more working people coming in because they’re experiencing economic hardships.
NEW TIMES: What impact does the Food Bank have on the communities of SLO county?
HANSEN: We donate over 4 million pounds of food annually, estimated to be worth over $5 million, to financially distressed individuals across the county. It’s a large impact when you take into account that around 15% of the county is estimated to be living either at or below the federal poverty level.
NEW TIMES: How can individuals and community organizations contribute?
HANSEN: We regularly send out mailers to county residents, as well as coordinate events with businesses and organizations within the county. People also help us out through telethons and our “Hunger Awareness Day”, which help both the Food Bank as well as distribution agencies. And people are always able to donate at our website, www.slofoodbank.org