Monthly Archives: March 2016

Peeling the Onion: The 411 on the Chester County Food Bank

Now in its sixth year of operation, the Chester County Food Bank has always been on a dedicated mission to end hunger in Chester County, but do you know how we do it, what we promote or how the education that we provide benefits the community?

There are many life-changing layers of this onion to peel. The Food Bank does so much more than collect canned goods, sort fresh produce and raise awareness of the need to help close to 50,000 people. Take a look at the snapshot below.

The Who

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A dedicated board of directors and a tireless staff work together with enthusiastic volunteers to come up with ways to benefit local communities through:

  • The collection and distribution of fresh food and nonperishable items throughout the county, including “food desert” areas.
  • The education of our communities on the benefits of food access, healthy food preparation and teaching healthy cooking habits.
  • Providing the means to organize and promote successful food drives with schools, businesses, organizations and individuals.
  • Providing maps and lists of food cupboards, soup kitchens and other hot meal sites for those in need and those who wish to help.

The How

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It takes a tremendous amount of people-power to bring about positive change in Chester County. Take a look at just a few examples of how the Food Bank makes an impact.

Food Drives: Schools, corporations and personal food drives are a valuable resource to acquire much-needed nonperishable items to stock the shelves of the distribution center.

Raised Bed Gardens: a network of over 125 garden sites provides fresh produce to local food cupboards from May through November. The Outdoor Classroom at Springton Manor Farm provides education opportunities for students, educators and the community at large.

Farming: Partnerships with local farms like Pete’s Produce Farm and Springton Manor Farm are essential in providing fresh produce to the Food Bank for distribution.

Commercial Kitchen: This first stop is where food is cleaned, sorted and packaged by a core team of hard-working volunteers.

Distribution: The Food Bank operates from its sole facility in Exton, where food arrives from local farms, corporations, individuals and government programs to be prepped for over 120 cupboards, pantries and partners that are located throughout Chester County.

Food Sourcing: The Chester County Food Bank uses its financial resources to purchase perishable and nonperishable food for those in need throughout the year.

Education: The Food Bank teaches the community about the importance of healthy eating through Nutrition Education programs, recipes, cooking classes and the Fresh2You Mobile Market.

The Why

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  • Be informed. Did you know that a single parent working to sustain a minimum wage job would need to work 80 hours per week to sustainably live in this area? Are you aware that at least 1 in 14 people in Chester County is food insecure, meaning that they lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food? Check out the Food Bank’s website or “like” the Food Bank on Facebook for community facts, promotions and donation and volunteer opportunities.
  • Donate. It’s no surprise that it takes time and money to help our neighbors. Every little bit helps. Donate today!

As you can see, there are many layers of the Chester County Food Bank. Fortunately, because of neighbors like you the Food Bank can continue to make a difference in our community by providing assistance for individuals and families in need. Want to learn more? Schedule a tour or request a speaker for your next community or corporate meeting.

The Chester County Food Bank is located at 650 Pennsylvania Dr. in Exton; phone: (610) 873-6000.

The Power of a Neighbor: Wegmans’ “Check Out for Hunger” Campaign for the Chester County Food Bank

Jose Frazer is modest about his role in the process to end hunger in Chester County. As an 11-year employee of Wegmans Food Markets, Jose, area service manager, beams, “I love working for Wegmans. Coming from the restaurant business, I started in the cheese department here. This company provides so much of a positive environment—not only for the employees, but also in their commitment and hands-on involvement in the local community as well.”

Celebrating 100 years as a family-owned company this year, the Wegmans Downingtown and Malvern stores recently presented the Chester County Food Bank with a check for $120,367 and a truckload of nearly 18,000 pounds of nonperishable food as a result of the “Check Out for Hunger” campaign, which ran from October through December 2015.

As part of the campaign, both customers and employees contributed single-digit monetary donations at checkout. “Of course we provided the cashiers with incentives such as gift cards, dinner packages, coffee, tea and candy prizes—but we also shared videos and personal stories of how some of us were personally affected by hunger or food programs growing up,” shares Jose. “I grew up in Philadelphia. My own family sometimes relied on churches, food bank programs and valued neighbors to make ends meet. I’ve experienced firsthand knowing the value of a crucial partnership such as Wegmans and the Chester County Food Bank,” he added, bringing his point home.

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Jose continues with praise of the teams of cashiers “who went over and above with their dedication to get customers involved in the donation process.” Regionally, the Wegmans teams raised $41,730 more than last year, with the Downingtown and Malvern stores showing an increase in donations of over $28,000. Working with the Food Bank for the past five years, Jose explains, “The competition between stores is great because in the end it benefits the people who need it most.”

Additionally, the employees who raised the highest amounts were given the opportunity to help unload and organize 20 pallets of food, including canned soups, vegetables and fruit, peanut butter, canned tuna, cereal and juice, at the Food Bank’s Exton distribution center.

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Larry Welsch, executive director of the Food Bank, reflects, “When the Chester County Food Bank started operations in 2009, Wegmans was the friendly neighbor that stopped by with the welcome basket—well, more like a welcome truckload of food. They have been the neighbor that we can depend on. We have never taken their generosity for granted, and each year that we are the recipient of Check Out Hunger we are truly grateful beyond words. We are thankful to be one of the many food banks that Wegmans supports regionally with their corporate giving programs. In order to tackle food insecurity, we have to do it together.”

Anne Shuniak, community engagement and marketing manager, adds, “We also appreciate each and every employee who made this annual campaign a success. Jose is not only a manager who motivates—he’s an example of an individual who gets involved to make a difference. He truly gets what it means to have the support of good neighbors. His smile is contagious and his attitude an inspiration. I value our professional relationship immensely.”

These community partnerships are like the neighbors we come to depend on to hopefully one day end hunger. With the unending generous support of the Wegmans Food Market family, the Chester County Food Bank is one step closer to doing just that.