Monthly Archives: June 2017

Your Dollar + Our Buying Power = A Winning Combo

At the Chester County Food Bank, we procure food for our community partners in a number of ways. Some items come from generous donations from our supporters, while others from food drives. But we buy a lot of food, too—in fact, 42% of our food inventory comes from the food we purchase using money from grants, donations and virtual food drives. It’s with those dollars that we can harness our buying power and stretch those funds to an amazing extent.

How do we do this? We have a number of different avenues that we pursue to take each dollar further:

  • Farmers: Over the last three years, we’ve developed relationships with local farmers, and we meet with them at the beginning of each season while they plan what they’re going to grow. Because of these connections, we can forecast what we’re looking for in terms of variety and quantity of fresh produce, and then buy in bulk from them at discounted prices.

  • Wholesalers: Through our relationship with Philabundance, which began in 2016, we’re able to get great leads on especially good wholesale deals on food. Often, folks from Philabundance will be at a produce market, see something on sale and call us to ask if we’re interested. Wholesalers generously donate some food, which helps us offset the cost of more expensive items. For example, if we purchase apples at 70 cents per pound and can get a matching quantity donated, it’s as if we’ve purchased all of the apples for just 35 cents per pound.
  • Produce auctions: This is how we obtain most of our fresh produce. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, you can find Operations Director Denise Sheehan at the Leola Produce Auction, scouting out the best deals on fruits and veggies. Amish and Mennonite farmers bring carts and truckloads of produce and auctioneers sell them off to a crowd of 50 or more buyers. Denise notes how much cheaper the prices are at these auctions versus a regular market, recalling a particularly unique situation last summer: “I called every food bank I could remember the number for, because cantaloupes were selling for $2 a bin, and there are probably 150 pieces in each bin!” Denise has also established friendly relationships with some of the farmers at the auctions, and can often negotiate purchasing items from them that aren’t even on the auction block.

To stretch funds even further, Denise and our colleagues are constantly forming informal cooperatives with other food banks, because when many food banks band together and buy a truckload of an item, it’s that much cheaper. In these creative, economically efficient ways, CCFB’s buying power keeps growing exponentially more each year.

Want to learn moreSign up for our newsletter and stay connected. You can also donate foodfunds and time to help us achieve our mission. Call (610) 873-6000 to speak to someone about getting involved or requesting a tour. Thanks to you, we’re growing a healthier community.

The Chester County Food Bank is the central hunger relief organization serving more than 120 food cupboards, meal sites and social service organizations throughout Chester County. We mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthy food. 

Emily Kovach

Chester County Commissioners Present $25,000 Check to Food Bank

The Chester County Commissioners presented a check for $25,000 to representatives from the Chester County Food Bank this week. The funds are part of the County’s annual appropriations to organizations and non-profits.

The check was presented at Pete’s Produce Farm in Westtown Township, to Larry Welsh, Executive Director, and Norm Horn, Director of Development for the Chester County Food Bank.  The Food Bank grows on approximately four acres of farmland that Pete Flynn, who is also a Food Bank Board member, allocates to the CCFB Agricultural Program. With the help of over a thousand volunteers each season, more than 200,000 pounds of produce is anticipated to be harvested from farm partners Pete’s Produce and Springton Manor Farm.

Chester County government actively supports the work of the Chester County Food Bank, and in particular the farm and garden programs, growing vegetables and fruit at the County’s Springton Manor Farm as well as at the Chester County Youth Center and Chester County Prison.

Nearly $300,000 of state and federal funding channels through Chester County government for the Chester County Food Bank annually, and in addition to the Commissioners’ annual appropriation, county employees donate food and toiletry items to the Food Bank as part of the county’s monthly dress down day program.

The Chester County Food Bank serves approximately 50,000 people a year through their network of more than 120 partner agencies such as food cupboards, meal sites and social service agencies.  Last year, 2.5 million pounds of food were distributed, including over 800,000 pounds of fresh produce.

 

Chester County is the first county in Pennsylvania to initiate a strategic planning process and has a AAA rating on its bonds from Moody’s Investors Service as well as AAA ratings from Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings.  Established by William Penn as one of Pennsylvania’s three original counties, Chester County has been named by Forbes.com as one of America’s best places to raise a family and is ranked the healthiest county in Pennsylvania by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

 

PHOTO IDENTIFICATIONS FROM LEFT:  Commissioner Kathi Cozzone; Larry Welsh, Executive Director of the Chester County Food Bank; Norm Horn, Director of Development at the Chester County Food Bank; Commissioner Michelle Kichline and Commissioner Terence Farrell.

It’s Back! Fresh2You Mobile Market Hits the Road June 13

What has four wheels, is staffed by friendly faces, is loaded up with delicious things to eat and makes the rounds through Chester County communities all summer (and, into fall)? If you thought an ice cream truck, think again—it’s the Chester County Food Bank’s Fresh2You Mobile Market! This cheerfully painted produce market on wheels, generously sponsored by QVC, hits the road June 13 and rolls throughout the county through November. Tuesday, June 13 is opening market day at the Chester County Family Academy (next to the West Chester Senior Center), and the first Saturday market at the Coatesville Library on June 17 will surely be an exciting and busy day as well!

The coolest thing about the Fresh2You Mobile Market is that it can stop at places where fresh fruits, veggies and healthy locally made staples can be hard to find. The mission of the mobile market is to connect lower-income communities to the fresh produce grown in our region, and to make high-quality food affordable to the whole community while paying farmers fairly for their labor and products.

During the first few weeks of the truck’s schedule, our shelves will be brimming with beautiful seasonal produce, such as a variety of greens like kale and lettuce, slender spring onions, crunchy carrots and sweet tart berries. This year, we’re also offering tasty and nutritious pantry staples: Swarmbustin’ Honey from West Grove, organic and local eggs, a wide variety of dried beans and grains, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and Fresh2You’s special herb blends.

Our 2017 schedule is packed five days each week (Tuesday – Saturday) with stops at various locations including churches, libraries and YMCAs. In addition to setting up shop on a regular basis, our staff and volunteers will frequently hold Taste It! demonstrations to introduce shoppers to ingredients and share creative recipes.

Here’s the full schedule:

Everyone is welcome to shop at Fresh2You Mobile Market, and we accept all forms of payment: cash, credit and debit cards, SNAP/EBT (food stamps), and WIC and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) vouchers. This year, we’re offering a wonderful program that provides a dollar-for-dollar match on all fruit and vegetable purchases made with SNAP and FMNP vouchers. Most matching dollar programs throughout the country only match SNAP purchases, but this year we are also able to match FMNP purchases. We are excited to offer our WIC and Senior FMNP shoppers this additional benefit.

To keep up with the Fresh2You Mobile Market, follow the truck’s team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our newsletter and stay connected. You can also donate food, funds and time to help us achieve our mission. Call (610) 873-6000 to speak to someone about getting involved or request a tour. Thanks to you, we’re growing a healthier community.

The Chester County Food Bank is the central hunger relief organization serving more than 120 food cupboards, meal sites and social service organizations throughout Chester County. We mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthy food.

Emily Kovach

Meet the Team: The Tuesday Terrors Volunteers

Here at the Chester County Food Bank, we rely on our generous volunteers for so much of what we are able to accomplish. From processing donations to staffing events, it is thanks to the energy and dedication of our amazing volunteers that we can continue to help so many families and individuals in our community to have access to nourishing food and educational programming.

While we greatly appreciate all of our volunteers, there is an extra-special group that has been volunteering with the CCFB for years. This good-natured crew of 15 volunteers is lovingly referred to as the “Tuesday Terrors.” They give their time every Tuesday morning in our warehouse and kitchen, and then all go out to lunch together afterward! Throughout their years of service, the group has become a coordinated and well-trained team that can manage a number of tasks with limited supervision. From 9 a.m. until noon every Tuesday, they sort donated food, clean veggies, pack Meals on Wheels and pitch in wherever else they are needed.

Gerry Miller and his wife, Sue, joined the Tuesday Terrors in 2013 because they had both retired and wanted to participate in an activity that was socially engaging and benefited the community. One of their neighbors suggested the CCFB because they had a very positive experience volunteering with us. Gerry and Sue have fulfilled their goals with the Tuesday Terrors. Gerry said, “For Sue and me, the best parts are the camaraderie, and helping those in the community who might otherwise go hungry.”

Gerry says their group would be happy to welcome others, and encourages anyone interested to give volunteering a try. “You’ll meet a lot of wonderful people, volunteer in a very positive environment and discover that you are playing an important role in helping get food to people in need.”

Another Tuesday Terror, Gail Kimble, enjoys that the group is made up of strangers from diverse backgrounds who became friends. “We work hard, laugh a lot, share stories and care about each other and our families in a special way. We enjoy the work and are happy to help families who may be hungry,” she said. Her favorite part of volunteering at CCFB? “Knowing that in a small way I can impact someone’s life.”

Jerry West started volunteering at the CCFB seven years ago when we were still in our former location in Guthriesville. He’s found the experience to be satisfying in a fundamental way. “Volunteering lets me use my many skills that I have learned over my 80 years,” he said. “I feel I am giving back to others who need a helping hand.”

If you’d like to join the Tuesday Terrors or volunteer with the Chester County Food Bank in any capacity, let us know! You can check out our Volunteer FAQ page for more information, and email volunteer@chestercountyfoodbank.org with unanswered questions or to get involved.

Want to learn moreSign up for our newsletter and stay connected. You can also donate foodfunds and time to help us achieve our mission. Call (610) 873-6000 to speak to someone about getting involved or requesting a tour. Thanks to you, we’re growing a healthier community.

The Chester County Food Bank is the central hunger relief organization serving more than 120 food cupboards, meal sites and social service organizations throughout Chester County. We mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthy food.

Emily Kovach