Monthly Archives: October 2016

Our Challenge: How You Can Become a Holiday Hero

The holiday season seems to be thrust upon us more quickly every year. The hustle and bustle harbor the anticipation of family, friends and delicious holiday feasts with toasts of good cheer, warm laughter and cherished memories.

The challenge.

It’s difficult for us to imagine what it feels like to not be able to have these amazing banquets, to not be able to provide the resources or the money to plan a basic nourishing holiday meal for our family—meals that we many times take for granted.

Our challenge for you is this: Don’t eat anything for eight hours. No protein bars. Skip the fruit and nuts. Omit that nutritious shake. Go ahead and try it. Observe how empty your stomach feels, how light your head seems and how difficult it is to maintain even a bit of focus toward the end of the day.

For many of our own Chester County neighbors—multiply those eight hours into days, weeks or perhaps months.

Think of it this way. Eight hours is also the average amount of time required to take part in creating a successful food drive with the Chester County Food Bank. It may not sound like a huge investment from you, but the positive impact is exponential for us—and for our communities. We need you to be our hero.

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Get involved. It’s easy.

You want to be involved but where do you begin? How do you plan a food drive during the busy holiday season? What resources do you need?

Whether you wish to conduct a smaller solo effort or to coordinate a more massive drive to include friends, family and coworkers, we have it all spelled out simply on our easy-to-navigate website. Take a look at our online tool kit that includes the information you’ll need.

To make the process go even more smoothly—simply register your food drive with us via our convenient email.

Specific holiday items are always beneficial this time of year and include frozen turkeys, canned vegetables, fruit, cranberry sauce and gravies, as well as packaged instant potatoes and boxed stuffing. Focus on collecting one item by itself if it makes it easier. We’ll accept it all. In fact, we will also accept the receipts for free turkeys that some neighborhood grocery stores provide to frequent shoppers in addition to actual frozen turkeys.  We’ve even added Saturday drop off hours – we will be open Saturdays in November (9a-noon) leading up to Thanksgiving accepting food donations.

Still not sure what additional things to collect? Check out our year-round food and breakfast needed items. We encourage you to participate in this year’s Chester County Housing & Food for All 365 National Hunger Homelessness Awareness Week events (November 12-19).

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Be a hero. Donate.

We certainly realize how valuable your personal time is and we do understand if you cannot commit to organizing a food drive at this time, but we continue to need your involvement. You still have the opportunity to be a community hero by simply donating.

Our dedicated team of staff members and volunteers is willing to assist you to become a true holiday hero for our own neighbors. Call us at (610) 873-6000 with any questions you may have and thank you for your sincere support.

Sign up for our in-depth newsletter and be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for up-to-the-minute information.

The Chester County Food Bank is  the central hunger relief organization serving more than 120 partner agencies in Chester County, Pa. Through our network of food cupboardshot meal sites, shelters and other social service organizations, we distribute over 2.5 million pounds to our neighbors with limited or uncertain access to adequate food. We also take a steadfast approach to provide food and build support in the neediest communities, while raising awareness and engagement among our community. Visit our Nutrition Education page to learn about how our programs are making inroads in the fight against hunger. We are located at 650 Pennsylvania Dr., Exton, Pa. 19341.

Ed Williams

Make a (Bigger!) Difference in October: WSFS Will Match All Donations Up to $5,000

We value all our partners, but this month we’re particularly grateful for WSFS Bank. The community-minded financial institution is celebrating our community-friendly website by matching all donations made in October 2016.

It’s simple: WSFS will match donations up to $5,000. That means it’s never been a better time to give. As we head into colder weather and the holiday season, Chester County’s less fortunate folks need even more help from the Chester County Food Bank.

“The members of the WSFS Bank Pennsylvania Advisory Board are happy to provide their annual donation for this matching challenge grant to the Chester County Food Bank,” said Vernita Dorsey, WSFS senior vice president and director of community strategy. “The opportunity to maximize the impact of our $5000 gift is one that we simply could not pass up. We believe our caring community partners will embrace the challenge and double this gift.”

The Chester County Food Bank runs on contributions, and we’re proud to say 89 percent of all donations go directly to costs that provide access to healthy food for those struggling with food insecurity.

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We rely on generosity from individuals, organizations and corporations so we can continue to:

  • Offer our innovative programs
  • Address the root causes of hunger
  • Provide advocacy and education
  • Maintain equipment and trucks
  • Purchase food in bulk
  • And so much more!

“This new partnership between WSFS and the Food Bank strengthens our community and furthers the awareness of hunger and food insecurity in Chester County. The match that WSFS is offering is a ‘carrot’ to the community inviting them to donate dollars to make an even bigger impact to fight hunger,” said Larry Welsch, executive director.

We can’t say it enough: We’re grateful to WSFS for standing with us to fight hunger in Chester County! Join in with a donationAny amount makes a difference.

Want to be in the know about what we’re doing in your community? Sign up for our newsletter and stay connected. Thanks to you, we’re growing a healthier community.

The Chester County Food Bank collects, stores and distributes food to over 120 food cupboards, meal sites and social service organizations. Since our beginning in 2009, we have increased distribution over 119% by distributing 2.5 million pounds of food. The Food Bank partners with donors, volunteers, farmers, schools and businesses to address hunger and food insecurity with compassion and creativity.

Nina Malone

Take a Tour Through Our New Website

We’re busting-at-the-seams proud of our new website and its simple (but fun!) layout. Our goal was to make the site easy to navigate so our community can more easily engage with the Chester County Food Bank.

Take a stroll through the site and learn about us, our food sourcesprograms and education and community partners. You’ll find the latest on our Fresh2You Mobile Market and how to host a food drive (check out our new food drive toolkit!). But most importantly, you can quickly access how to find foodget involved and donate:

Click on Need Food? to find a local food provider or hot meal site.

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Click on Get Involved to learn about how you can make a difference right in your own backyard.

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Click on Donate to provide much needed funds to keep our programs strong and to serve those in need.

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More exciting news—our friends at WSFS bank are matching donations during the month of October! It’s their way of celebrating our new web presence.

Want to be in the know about what we’re doing in your community? Sign up for our newsletter and stay connected. Thanks to you, we’re growing a healthier community.

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The Chester County Food Bank collects, stores and distributes food to over 120 food cupboards, meal sites and social service organizations. Since our beginning in 2009, we have increased distribution over 119% by distributing 2.5 million pounds of food. The Food Bank partners with donors, volunteers, farmers, schools and businesses to address hunger and food insecurity with compassion and creativity.

Nina Malone

Chester County Food Bank Always Wins Big at Produce Auction

“I once had someone tell me that she didn’t think she deserved fresh food because of the situation she was in. I still remember her saying. ‘I just didn’t think I should deserve this.’ Hearing things like that is why I do this job. Everyone deserves fresh food,” said Anne Shuniak, Community Engagement & Marketing Manager of the Chester County Food Bank (CCFB).

In pursuit of its goal to provide fresh food to everyone, CCFB has broken the mold with farm partnershipsnutritional programs, a raised garden bed program, corporate partnerships and foundationsvolunteer initiatives, a commercial kitchen, a mobile food truck and more. In addition, for the last five years the Food Bank has been attending produce auctions one to two times a week to source the freshest food possible at an affordable rate.

The Food Bank invited key community partners (including representatives from Wegman’s, QVC and Vanguard) along to see anne-wegmans-leola-produce-auction-10-460x592the auction in action. Produce auctions are exciting events in themselves, with rows upon rows of fresh, locally grown produce waiting for the right (bulk) buyer to sweep them away in the early morning hours. Boxes are stacked on the carts with one sample of the lot cut open and ready for bidders to taste and inspect. Bidders from the CCFB are armed with shopping lists, spoons to taste and pens to take notes.

“This is what being a sustainable community is all about. Everyone wins; the food is produced in PA, so the farmer wins, the community wins and the donated dollars go further,” said Anne.

Ryan Jonas, Senior Market Researcher at the Vanguard Group, was excited to witness the activity with their CCFB partner. “I think a lot of people don’t realize how many people in Chester County are truly in need—there are over 40,000 people who live in Chester County who do not know where their next meal is coming from. The Chester County Food Bank works hard to reduce that number and to make sure that those in need are getting healthy food. Because Vanguard has a large percentage of employees who live in Chester County, it was important to find a food bank to support our annual food drive. Chester County Food Bank not only does a tremendous job of supporting the community with a host of unique and innovative programs, they are in the forefront of fighting two issues at the same time: the war on hunger and the war on obesity. They focus on not only providing food to those in need, but making sure that the food provided is healthy. We have been working with the Chester County Food Bank for many years and they continue to be an amazing partner!”

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New to bidding duty this year is Denise Denise Sheehan, Director of Operations. “We have three volunteers that have been going to the auction since we started. They are retired gentlemen that were interested in volunteering with us but wanted to do something different.”

Denise, along with seasoned bidding volunteers, heads to the auction a few times a week. Bidding on items is a lot of pressure when you’re responsible for buying food to feed so many. “When we are up at the auction together we put together a game plan of what we’re looking for along with the price we are willing to pay and how much we can take.” Denise and the team decide on quantity and selection of items for their mega-sized grocery list based on the season and how many families each agency is serving that week

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Ryan Jonas was excited to see such a return on their investment at the auction. “It was amazing to see how well the Chester County Food B puts the donation dollars to use. I could not believe that watermelons were selling for $1/melon when they are at least five times that at the local grocery store.”

Denise drove that point home even further. “The auction is definitely the most efficient way to get fresh produce into the norm-larry-leola
community via our agency network. We pay an average of 25 cents per pound, which is why we prefer cash donations to be able to purchase produce. All of our Direct Distribution programs benefit from cash donations in much the same way. Children and Seniors benefit from donations via our Backpack Program and Senior Box Program as we are able to get great pricing on bulk buys of nonperishable foods. People like the idea of Food Drives because of the instant gratification of seeing the food, but in reality we could buy two to three times more if they did a Fund Drive and we purchased the food. We also rely on cash donations for General Operating—keeping the lights on, fuel in the trucks and staffing.”

On our trip, one of the items on the list was cabbage. Denise (who floated confidently in a sea of dozens of local farmers, market managers and buyers) calmly bid on and won four bins of cabbage, each filled with 80–90 heads. All of the cabbage went to the CCFB’s commercial kitchen to have the outer leaves removed and then out to the agencies to be redistributed to clients. “Some of the produce we purchase does go out on the Fresh2You truck for sale,” she added.

Other winning quantities of produce have a similar journey. Once it returns to the CCFB warehouse it is then weighed and received into inventory. Depending what type of produce it is, it either goes directly to the agencies for redistribution to clients or it goes into the processing kitchen. Items like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage need to have their outer leaves and stalks trimmed before they are bagged and sent to agencies. “We are also purchasing for two other larger food banks this year—Philabundance and Central PA Food Bank. They send their own trucks that take the produce back to their warehouses directly from the auction,” said Denise.

The team at the CCFB is a group of hard-working, passionate individuals that makes up a greater force of positivity and innovation. “The CCFB has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to providing fresh produce—whether we buy it at auction, grow it on one of our partner farms or buy directly from local farmers here in Chester County. We focus on education both at the agency and client level and have created programming that will engage the community at all levels. Our newly crafted mission statement—”We mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthy food”—is a testament to where we are as an organization, and the funds we receive allow us to continue working toward this.”

Vanguard’s Ryan Jonas added, “In addition to seeing the tremendous buying power that the Chester County Food Bank had at the produce auction, we saw another great way they serve our community through another program. Every year, we ask all of our partner agencies how we can best help them in their efforts to provide for the community, since they are on the front lines. This year, the Chester County Food Bank asked for help with its annual backpack program by providing enough cans of tuna to last the entire year. Many children from low-income families get free or discounted lunch at their school, but on weekends,they cannot rely on this help. Every Friday, the Chester County Food Bank’s backpack program gives these children food to last over the weekend. We searched for the best price for the tuna and then made a purchase of more than 10,000 cans to supply the program for the entire school year. It was amazing to see the money from our employees be able to help so many children.”

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Supported by the folks that live, work and play in Chester County, the desire to help is contagious. As Jonas said, “I do want to point out that the money and food that was given to the Chester County Food Bank (and our other partners for the food drive) came 100% from Vanguard’s employees—not the company itself.”

Stay connected with the Chester County Food Bank by volunteeringorganizing a food drive or donating.