Monthly Archives: September 2017

Feeding Families Through Government Programs

At the Chester County Food Bank (CCFB), our mission is to feed as many people as possible. We do this through different channels, like our Fresh2You mobile market, and through partnerships, such as Meals on Wheels. In addition, we also rely on two key government programs to help us fulfill our mission.

Since our opening day in November 2009, the CCFB has received funds through grants from the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP), enabling us to purchase food for the 34 agencies we support with government programs throughout the county. In 2016, we received over $300,000 from the SFPP, for which we were very grateful, especially considering that not every state has an SFPP program.

Recently, we’ve begun to survey those 34 agencies to see which items they are most in need of, and to try to supply them through SFPP funds. The CCFB also delivers all food directly to our agencies, saving them both time and costs. We aim to serve our community as efficiently and conveniently as possible.

We also receive funding through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), a federal program in place to supplement the diets of low-income citizens. The CCFB uses those funds to source local fresh and frozen foods, including produce such as apples, carrots, squash, beans and sweet potatoes, as well as eggs, shelf-stable milks, cheese, canned goods, dry goods and frozen meats and fish.

These resources make a huge different in the lives of the recipients. Throughout the county, our food providers tell us stories about how the individuals and families who receive food from the Food Bank and through their local cupboard has helped them to survive. Phoebe Kitson-Davis, our Director for Agency and Community Partnerships, recalls one recurring example:

“Seniors have shown me their budget for the month, and at the end they have $4 left for stamps, cards and sundries—which are important to seniors. We are able to register them up for TEFAP, SFPP and our Senior Food Box Program at their local cupboard so they have a few extra dollars to send cards to their grandchildren and friends.”

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 take a steadfast approach to provide food and build support in the neediest communities, while raising awareness and engagement among our community.

Emily Kovach

Photos: Ed Williams (top), Chester County Food Bank

CCFB’s Top 5 FAQs (We’ve Got Answers!)

There’s a lot going on here at the Chester County Food Bank, so it’s no surprise that we receive many questions from our wonderful supporters. There is a handy FAQ page on our website, but there are a few specific questions we hear more frequently. To hopefully make things easier, we thought we’d share our top five frequently asked questions, along with some answers.

Where are you located?

Believe it or not, even though we’ve been around since 2009, people are still unsure of where we’re physically located. The answer is that our facility calls Exton home, at 650 Pennsylvania Drive to be exact (see here for detailed directions). We’ve been in this location since 2013. If you’d ever like to come visit us, we host an annual open house . This fun event is a great time to see our space and get further acquainted with our staff, volunteers and programs. We also offer tours of our space throughout the year. You can also drop off a food donation Monday – Friday from 8a-4p for a general look at our facility.

We’re often asked if our work extends into Philadelphia, and the answer to that is no. While there is definitely a lot of need in Philadelphia (and plenty of amazing organizations addressing those needs), 1 in 10 people in Chester County are facing food insecurity, and we’ve made it our mission to direct resources to our own communities. Though CCFB is situated in the middle of the county, we cover the entire county, even Southern Chester County.

What are the food items most needed by the CCFB?

The simple answer to this is that we need the same things you’re buying for your pantry. For instance, in the early fall, you’ll notice that cereals, grab-and-go snacks and other back-to-school necessities are on sale at your local grocery store. Those items are exactly what would help us most, as well! A wide range of nonperishables is always welcome, and there is an ongoing need for nutrient-rich, crowd-pleasing foods like peanut butter, canned tuna, dried pasta, canned fruit and beans.

While we’re sure that your homemade pasta sauce and jams are amazing, please note that we cannot accept homemade goods, glass jars or expired foods of any kind.

When’s the best time of year to donate food?

We understand that the winter holidays often inspire a will to give back, and Thanksgiving and Christmas are indeed very popular times for food drives. But the truth is that because people need food 365 days a year, the best time of year is anytime. Each season presents its own challenges for us to help our neighbors battle food insecurity. During the summer, when so many children can no longer count on their subsidized school lunches, we offer our Summer Food Box program. When school is back in session, we’re ready with our Weekend Backpack program for kids who might not otherwise get three meals a day. Meals on Wheels and our Senior Food Boxes help to provide nourishing food for seniors year-round, and because disasters can happen anytime, we’re always prepared with our Emergency Response meals.

Is it better to donate food or money?

Of course, we appreciate any and all donations, no matter how small and no matter in what form. But if you really want to make the most of your contribution to the mission of the Chester County Food Bank, the honest answer is money.

Food drives and donated food go a long way to help combat food insecurity in our community, but because of our access to produce auctions, farmers and wholesale deals, we can truly leverage the power of your dollars and stretch them way further than you can at the supermarket, or even at a wholesale buyer’s club. Your dollar plus our buying power can equal a lot of food to help feed our neighbors in need.

How can I volunteer?

We love getting this question! It means that people are energized and ready to come help us by giving their precious time and energy. You can volunteer as an individual or even with a group of friends, classmates or colleagues! There are many ways to get involved, and find a volunteer opportunity that matches your skills and interests.

Many avid (and amateur) gardeners find satisfaction in volunteering with our Raised Bed Garden program, or helping harvest at local farms whom we’ve partnered with.

Love to cook? We have plenty of opportunities to volunteer in our kitchen, or to introduce children and adults to new foods and cooking techniques through our fun and interactive Taste It! program.

Check our ever-evolving volunteer schedule to view and sign up for volunteer shifts.

If you still have questions, please refer to our FAQ page, or contact us at (610) 873-6000 or contact@chestercountyfoodbank.org.

Want to learn more? Sign 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 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, healthful food.

Emily Kovach

Photos, top to bottom: Ed Williams (second), Chester County Food Bank (first and third); Ed Williams

Did You Know We “Rescue” Food?

They’re scenes that may be all too familiar: a supermarket has flats of produce a few days away from expiration that need to be rotated out to make way for “fresher” stuff; a farmer faces a bumper crop in her field that will ripen faster than she and her crew can harvest; a community sports team hosts a summer BBQ and has hundreds of leftover rolls and juice boxes.

Food waste is, sadly, an everyday occurrence in America. Though families face food insecurity in nearly every community in our country, millions of pounds of food go to waste each year. Luckily, we’ve seen awareness steadily growing around this issue, and the Chester County Food Bank (and other organizations like us) are able to “rescue” food in quantities that grow year after year.

Our food-rescue operations are possible thanks to a number of community partners and organizations. We are part of Grocers Against Hunger, a Philabundance effort that enables local grocery stores to donate products they’re no longer able to sell but still are viable. Because of strict guidelines, many supermarkets are faced with perfectly good food they cannot sell to the public. Grocers Against Hunger is just one of the ways that the Chester County Food Bank and Philabundance are partnering to expand food distribution in Chester County. Since 2016, this partnership has put more and varied food into the hands of those who need it by allowing CCFB & Philabundance to share their resources and become more efficient.

Tractor-trailer companies will call us if they arrive at a grocery store with a delivery and the store refuses their order. Perhaps there was an error in the ordering, or the product hasn’t arrived in the condition that the store’s receiver expected, as sometimes happens with produce and proteins. Often, it’s cheaper for them to donate to us than to back-haul.

We are able to connect the food cupboards we work with to those stores to acquire those products. Sometimes we go to the stores ourselves to rescue the food.

We also work with many local farmers, using a gleaning model when farmers are faced with less-than-perfect product, or more of one product than they are able to take to market. For example, we recently received a call from a farm in Avondale that has an orchard of more than 300 Asian pear trees that are overgrown with more fruit than its crew can possibly harvest. We sent down a crew of volunteers to harvest with a final total haul of 8,000 pounds of pears. To learn more about food’s journey from the CCFB to those in need, see here.

Claudia Rose-Muir, CCFB’s food sourcing manager, said, “People are a lot more aware of food waste … they’re more willing to save the food than to toss it. People are also becoming more aware of the Chester County Food Bank and what we do, so we’re getting more of these rescue calls.”

When it comes to rescued food, we do have to be specific. Because of the size and capacity of our warehouse, we are capable of accepting bulk quantities of dry, shelf-stable, refrigerated and frozen food items, but we insist that USDA and health department guidelines are always followed. Whether rescued food comes from an individual or a tractor-trailer, we strictly adhere to food safety protocol.

We like to remind our neighbors and community partners that all food donors are protected under The Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. This law was passed in 1996, and provides a layer of legal protection to anyone donating food, so that if in the very unlikely chance that donated food made someone ill, the donor is protected from being sued for liability. The same law protects someone from legal ramifications that could arise from trying to give first aid or CPR to a person who is injured or unconscious on the street. For further reading, Feeding America has an informative post on its website about this act.

If you are a commercial business or wholesaler interested in helping us rescue food and share it with our neighbors in need, please contact Nick Popov at npopov@chestercountyfoodbank.org.

Want to learn more? Sign 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 request a tour.

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, healthful food.

Emily Kovach

Photos, top to bottom: Ed Williams; Chester County Food Bank

September is Hunger Action Month: 14 Ways to Get Involved

September is a month of change and renewal: School is back in session and vacation is over. As the oppressive heat of summer dissipates, we’re reenergized and reactivated. It’s the perfect time to take stock and press forward with projects and passions. So, while the Chester County Food Bank works 12 months a year to address and combat food insecurity in our community, we focus even more intently in September, which is Hunger Action Month.

Hunger Action Month is a wide-reaching initiative from Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, which started in 1979 and connects sources of surplus food to hundreds of food banks. In 2016, Chester County Food Bank and Philabundance developed a partnership to expand food distribution in Chester County, an area which both food banks serve. To date, this partnership has put more and varied food into the hands of those who need it by allowing the two food banks to share their resources and become more efficient.

In September people all over America will stand together with Feeding America and the nationwide network of food banks to fight hunger. Do you feel inspired to get involved with Hunger Action Month? Here are 14 ways to help fight food insecurity and hunger in your community:

  1. Shop the Fresh2You Mobile Market: Chester County Food Bank’s market-on-wheels brings fresh, nutritious food to neighborhoods throughout our region. While the mission of the Fresh2You Mobile Market is to connect low-income families with the bounty of Chester County, the market is open to all! Check out the Fresh2You schedule and come do some of your weekly shopping with us! Your dollars help to support our mission.
  2. Sign up to volunteer with CCFB: We rely on volunteers for so much, and are deeply appreciative of all the energy and enthusiasm our volunteers bring to the table. In September, after students return to school, we always face a particular need for volunteers at our farm sites. If you’re able to donate a few hours to working at Pete’s Produce Farm or Springton Manor Farm, please view our online calendar and sign up. Harvest season is an extra fun time to work on the farm! To stay committed, be an early bird! Start your week off right by signing up for one of our Monday or Tuesday 7–8:30 a.m. volunteer opportunities at a farm.
  3. Know the local pantries: A great—and easy—way to participate in Hunger Action Month is simply to check out where the food pantries in your area are located. Whether for your own benefit, or perhaps to act as a resource to a friend, colleague or neighbor, simply knowing where local help for the hungry is counts as taking action.
  4. Contact the Food Bank to request a speaker for your company, church or community organization: Help us to amplify our mission by inviting someone from our organization to speak to yours. A knowledgeable staff member will discuss the realities of hunger in Chester County, our work to provide food access to those struggling with food insecurity and how you can get involved to help those in need in our community.
  5. Sign up for the Food Bank’s newsletter: Here’s another great way to get involved that only takes a moment! Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest from CCFB in your email inbox.
  6. Take the SNAP Challenge: Can you eat on $4 a day? That is what is expected of many people receiving SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) through the state. See how far you can stretch $4 to feed your family for a whole day at your local market or discount grocery store. Understanding that significant challenge can help to boost empathy and give insight to the very real daily struggles of some of our neighbors.
  7. Organize a Tuna Tuesday food drive at your office/school/church: Harness the energy of the people around you by spearheading a food drive wherever you find community. We’ve found that themed drives are often successful, and “Tuna Tuesday” is an especially good once, since canned tuna is so nutrient-dense—a perfectly shelf-stable protein source that kids and adults love. Another great theme is a “spaghetti dinner” food drive. Collect pasta, canned sauce, canned tomatoes and spices like garlic powder and oregano in plastic jars.
  8. Brown-bag your lunch and donate what you would spend on lunch to the Food Bank: Even the thriftiest lunch out adds up. So whether you’d normally spend $3 or $13 buying lunch at a convenience store or cafe, kick it old school with a brown-bag lunch as many days each week as possible. Add up what you saved and donate to the CCFB! Our purchasing power allows us to stretch your dollar in amazing ways.
  9. Dig up change to make a change: Collect loose change at home or around office and donate at end of the month to the Food Bank. This is a great exercise in seeing how small contributions can really add up. A quarter here, a few dimes there, and before you know it, you’ll have a sizable donation to help us further our mission.
  10. Check if your employer offers a charitable match: Double the impact of your gift by having your employer match your donation to CCFB. Many more companies offer this benefit than you may think, so be sure to inquire with your supervisor or human resources department to see if matching gifts are available to you.
  11. Attend the Brandywine Valley Evening Water Garden on September 30. This is the final garden tour for the season that all benefit the Chester County Food Bank. The tour features an eclectic array of water features that encourage visitors to wander around waterfalls, fountains and lush landscaping all with the added beauty of outdoor and underwater lights. Guests of the Evening Water Garden Tour will be transported via bus from property to spectacular property and enjoy an alfresco progressive dinner and dessert.
  12. Shop Amazon Smile: We know how indispensable shopping on Amazon.com is for many families. When you shop, go through the Smile.Amazon.com portal and select Chester County Food Bank as your preferred charity. Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to us! AmazonSmile offers the same pricing, shipping and services as the regular Amazon.com.
  13. Work out and give back at acac with their 30 days for $30 campaign. Just $1 a day supports the Food Bank with 100% of donations benefiting the Food Bank. Memberships must be purchased and activated by September 30, 2017.
  14. Color some kindness: Sometimes, it’s the little things. Sign up to decorate boxes for our senior food box program. It’s a fun activity that gets the whole family involved, especially kids who aren’t old enough to volunteer yet! Boxes can be picked up by request from our facility (depending on availability. maximum 50 boxes). Please contact food@chestercountyfoodbank.org if you are interested in this activity.

We hope at least one of these suggestions gives you a useful, doable way to be part of Hunger Action Month this September!

Want to learn more? Sign 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 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, healthful food.

Emily Kovach

Photos, top to bottom: Chester County Food Bank; Ed Williams; Nathan Greenwood; Chester County Food Bank

Food Bank Community Aids Hurricane Victims

The Chester County Food Bank is in communication with our regional food bank neighbors and Feeding America to educate our communities about providing food assistance to the people of Texas and the Gulf region affected by Hurricane Harvey.

When disaster strikes, the Feeding America network is on the ground and ready to deliver food and emergency supplies to help people cope in the aftermath. The Feeding America network is actively working to help support families facing disaster relief and recovery in situations like the hurricane and flooding in Texas.

A man helps children across a flooded street on Aug 27, 2017. Houston (Photo Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

How You Can Help

There are five Feeding America food banks located in the affected area that need your help. Please consider making a monetary donation to these food banks which are on the front lines of the disaster relief:

Feeding Texas is helping to coordinate efforts throughout the state. With your contribution, Feeding America will deliver food, water, cleaning supplies and other essentials to communities devastated by the storm.

The Chester County Food Bank stands ready to help and is currently preparing a shipment of non-perishable food with our regional food bank partners. We will keep our Chester County community informed as we are called upon to send resources to the affected region.

Credit: NASA European Pressphoto Agency

Other Donations

We appreciate your generosity and know that you want to do everything you can to help after a disaster.

Unfortunately, collecting and sending food, clothing and other household items often does more harm than good because of logistical challenges. Instead, the best way to support disaster victims is with a financial donation.

Thank you for joining us in this effort.