Monthly Archives: November 2017

Get the Latest Chester County Food Bank News This Friday on WCHE

Exciting news: Our marketing and communications manager, Anne Shuniak, is going to make a guest appearance on the radio this Friday! Anne will be featured on the weekly show “Eat, Drink and Dish” on WCHE 1520 AM. This community-minded program, hosted by Mary Bigham of The Town Dish, covers topics related to the regional culinary scene, ranging from interviews with local chefs and brewers to in-depth conversations with food-related nonprofits like the Chester County Food Bank. The show airs every Friday from 12:15–1 p.m, and this Friday, November 10, Anne will be on at the top of the show.

Anne is uniquely positioned at CCFB to update you on what’s going on around the food bank. Tune in to get an insider’s perspective on the ins and outs of the holiday season, which are a busy and important time of year for us and those we serve. Here’s a sneak preview of some of the topics she’ll be discussing:

  • Common needs for the population the we serve: As you can imagine, the winter holidays can present extremely stressful and emotionally fraught situations for families who are facing food insecurity. We serve many types of people, ranging from parents with small children to senior citizens. Different types of households have different needs, but one thing is for sure: Hunger never takes a break, and we double down on efforts to make sure that our neighbors in need have enough in their cupboards for everyday meals, as well as bigger holiday gatherings.
  • November 11 and 18 Thanksgiving Food DrivesCCFB will be open from 9:30–11 a.m. on the next two Saturdays of the month. Our goal is encourage the community to bring in some of the food items that are most needed this time of year: canned fruit (in juice), canned chicken and/or tuna, canned tomatoes and tomato sauce, pasta and rice, instant potatoes and healthy cereals. Anne will go over all the details for how, when and where you can deliver your donations.
  • Other ways to get involved this holiday season: Giving monetary donationsvolunteering and hosting a food drive are just some of the ways for CCFB’s supporters to lend a hand not just during the holidays, but all year long! Anne will share suggestions for ways you can help those struggling with food insecurity in Chester County to enjoy the holidays.

So this Friday, November 10, at 12:15 p.m., turn your radio dial to WCHE 1520 AM to catch Anne Shuniak on “Eat, Drink and Dish!” You can go old school and listen on your actual radio, or live stream the show here. Each week’s episode is also saved for seven days on the podcast section of the WCHE website, which is convenient if you aren’t able to listen live, or want to share the show with a friend.

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, top to bottom: Pexels; Ed Williams (next two photos); Pexels

Meet Our Community Partner: Diwali Food Drive

When it comes to charitable giving and volunteering, the fall and winter holidays are when we often see a big surge from the community. Thanksgiving and Christmas may come to mind, but for the Byers Station community in Chester County, the holiday of Diwali—the Festival of Light—is the catalyst for a coordinated group effort to give back. Diwali (sometimes spelled “Deepavali”) is a five-day Hindu celebration that takes place each autumn in the Northern Hemisphere to signify the victory of light over dark and good over evil.

Since 2012, friends and neighbors in Byers Station and beyond have banded together to create the Diwali Food Drive, which captures the spirit of giving to those in need, a fundamental part of of the Diwali holiday. By creating individual goals on the Diwali Food Drive website, communities and neighborhoods demonstrate through their actions how much strength there is in numbers. By combining their smaller goals, all of the communities together can accomplish the main goal: This year’s goal was 60,000 pounds of food!

Chester County Food Bank is honored to be one of the recipients of this amazing community effort. This year’s drive, which wrapped up on October 21, brought in 25,532 pounds of food donations. A portion of these donations will also be sent to victims of Hurricane Harvey.

We’ve been one of the Diwali Food Drive’s distribution partners since its inception, and we’ve watched the initiative grow and evolve. Using word-of-mouth and harnessing the power of social media, the collective has expanded well beyond Byers Station to include 12 other communities throughout Chester County. The drive has become an annual tradition; families include their children, neighbors recruit one another—politicians are even getting involved! This year, Pennsylvania Rep. Duane Miller was present at various Chester County Diwali Food Drive events and was a vocal supporter of the mission.

The Diwali Food Drive’s impact cannot be understated. In the 5 years since it began, this group has brought 116,521 pounds of food directly to the Chester County Food Bank! Thanks to this donation, we are able to continue our mission of addressing hunger across the county, and sustain our many programs and initiatives that provide food for our neighbors in need.

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

First two photos: Pixabay; remaining photos: Balaji Studios

Keeping Chester County’s Kids Fed with Weekend Backpacks

We have a saying around here that goes, “Hunger never takes a break.” The statement is simple, but true: this basic human need affects people of all demographics. But food insecurity is a particularly pressing issue for our most vulnerable neighbors—children and seniors—who often rely on others to take care of them. Nearly 14,000 children in Chester County qualify for free or reduced price lunches through the National School Lunch Program and the National School Breakfast Program. It is a huge help to children and their families that meals during school are provided, but that doesn’t help to address the weekend. Hunger definitely doesn’t take a break just because it’s a Saturday or Sunday.

This realization was the impetus behind our Weekend Backpack program, a food distribution initiative that brings nutritious foods to children at school every Friday. Using a rotating variety of shelf-stable foods that are purchased by the Food Bank, volunteers pack resealable bags for local children, and these bags are put into backpacks of qualifying students at schools and after-school programs. The bags are filled with easy-to-prepare foods like macaroni and cheese, canned tuna and peanut butter, and help make sure that families have enough to eat during the weekends.

The students who take the backpacks home are those eligible for free or reduced meals, and also, at the discretion of school officials, those who aren’t eligible for the school meal subsidy programs, but may be facing crises or ongoing problems at home that make food scarce. From November 1, 2016, through June 1, 2017, our Backpack program distributed approximately 121,391 pounds of food to children throughout Chester County.

One of the schools that is part of our Weekend Backpack program is the Chester County Family Academy (CCFA), an elementary charter school in West Chester (also one of the sites of our Fresh2You Mobile Market!). This year, CCFA has 110 students coming from West Chester, Coatesville, Downingtown, Great Valley and Kennett Square. About half of the students are ESL students, and approximately 97 percent qualify as economically disadvantaged.

“Basically, our whole school is at risk for social, emotional and financial challenges,” said the school’s CEO, Susan Flynn. “Because our students qualify under the free and reduced lunch program, we provide breakfast, lunch and snacks for our students, but what happens on the weekends? When they come to us on Monday morning, you can see them waiting for their breakfasts.”

For the past four years, the Chester County Food Bank has been delivering weekend backpacks on Fridays to students at CCFA. Susan says she can really see the importance of the program and the difference it’s been making to her students. “We’re only kindergarten through second grade, and you see the kids carrying home these packs that are five or six pounds! Our children feel fulfilled by this; they feel strong because they’re carrying these backpacks and because they’re taking on this responsibility of helping to provide food to their families,” she said.

Susan also notes that every family in the school is offered a weekend backpack, so none of the students feel different or singled out. She says that she and the other teachers never emphasize being worried about the kids or their families, or hunger issues—they simply try to make the experience exciting and special.

“We make sure they know they need to bring their special backpack back on Monday, and the children get excited because there’s always something in there for them and for their families!” she said.

Susan reports that the families appreciate and need the food, and are aware that CCFB is the organization behind the backpacks. The program helps to take a huge burden off many of these families. “They know their children will be fed,” Susan explained. “And this is so important, because if you’re not being fed, you don’t have energy and you can’t learn.”

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: Chester County Family Academy