Phil Silver called J. on April 2 to report he couldn’t find any kosher-for-Passover matzah for the holiday in all of San Luis Obispo County.
The Nipomo resident had made the rounds of every supermarket he could think of, all the way to San Luis Obispo, about 25 miles north. “Even Ralph’s had nothing, not even a Passover display,” he said.
Last year, he reports, the local supermarkets had plenty. This year, none at all. Some had a box or two of regular matzah, but nothing that was kosher for Passover.
Silver spoke to the manager at his local Vons in Nipomo. “He was aware of the problem, but couldn’t explain it,” Silver said. He also called and left a message with the rabbi of Congregation Beth David in San Luis Obispo.
Apparently SLO isn’t the only matzah desert in the region. Locals in Bakersfield, 120 miles east in Kern County, also have reported a shortage of the kosher-for-Passover variety. According to a report in the Bakersfield Californian, Vons actually advertised kosher-for-Passover matzah but didn’t carry it. A store employee in Bakersfield told a resident that the regional distributors that deal in holiday foods hadn’t ordered any. The story also reported that a local Trader Joe’s had run out of its supply well before the holiday.
But there was some matzah on tables through the goodwill of Chabad of Bakersfield, which put out a call on Facebook offering matzah to those in need. Esther Schlanger said she and her husband, Rabbi Shmuli Schlanger, didn’t want to “make a big deal of it” but they understood people were upset.
“They needed their matzah,” she said, adding that they’d distributed around two dozen boxes.
“We sincerely appreciate the feedback of our customers,” a spokesperson for Albertsons/Vons, which also owns Safeway, said in an email to J. about the shortages in San Luis Obispo County and Bakersfield. “While many of our stores were prepared to serve customers during Passover, unfortunately, it is clear that we missed the mark in this region. We are working with our merchandising team and intend to do much better by the community in the future.”