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Monthly Archives: February 2022

Rising Food Costs Impact CCFB

Up and down the market’s aisles, groceries keep getting more expensive. Due to many issues, including transportation expenses and supply chain problems, the receipts are noticeably higher each grocery trip, and some items aren’t available. While you are navigating higher prices on essentials like gas and groceries, so are we at the Chester County Food Bank. In addition to rising costs, we are also seeing an increased demand for food assistance. Many households are being forced to adjust their shopping lists or they are seeking help from food cupboards, some for the first time.

“Prices are rising just as we continue to work through ways to meet demand,” said Catie Hargraves, Director of Procurement and Distribution. “Last year we received dairy, meat, and produce boxes through the USDA’s Farm to Family Covid Response, but funding was not renewed for the supplemental program this year.”  “Fresh produce pricing always increases during the off-season,” Hargraves continued, “We are seeing some prices up as much as 40% – the highest price increases in over five years.” It is increasingly difficult for our wholesale cooperative partner to acquire produce at a reasonable cost and some fruits and vegetables are not available in the current market. Some weeks, to meet the need, we have had to resort to purchasing from wholesalers at double and triple the cost.” 

In addition to pre-packed produce boxes, the Chester County Food Bank strives to provide clients with four to six fruits and vegetables per week through distributions to our network of 160 hunger relief partners, like food cupboards.

“Cauliflower and broccoli are two of the most frequently requested items from clients to our partner food cupboards,” said Hargraves. Our buying power typically enables us to bring in products at far lower than retail value, but right now the wholesale costs are mirroring grocery store increases.

In 2021, 50% of the 3.5 million pounds of food distributed by the Chester County Food Bank was fresh fruits and vegetables. We hope to sustain this high volume and variety of healthy food for our network of community partners that distribute to our neighbors in need.

The pandemic has exacerbated the issues of families who were already facing an uphill battle. Food insecurity has increased nearly 3% in our county, and the ripple effects persist. We remain committed to addressing food insecurity and securing adequate funding is essential to our organization’s success, particularly during a time when contributions are down, and food insecurity is increasing.

The surge in food prices has everyone’s attention, no matter your economic status. Managing higher costs on needs like housing or medicine is much more difficult for people with limited means. When prices go up, there is less slack in the budget causing further hardship.

“I get $25 in food stamps,” says Theresa, who lives with her brother and two grandchildren.  “I have COPD and diabetes, so it’s expensive. I wouldn’t be here at the cupboard if I didn’t need it. Seeing the pantry items, dairy, sweet potatoes, and broccoli go into my car – I am grateful for the food bank. We can use all we can get.”

The pandemic is not over, and our neighbors – families, seniors, and veterans continue to struggle. Despite these uncertainties, we are committed to our holistic and sustainable approach to addressing the pressing need of food-insecure families in Chester County.

How can you help? Learn more about the Chester County Food Bank and support its mission by visiting www.chestercountyfoodbank.org/donate. Host a virtual food drive to help offset food purchasing. Every dollar counts! We can purchase nearly 5x more with every donated dollar.

If you are in need of food assistance, visit www.chestercountyfodobank.org/needfood or call 610-873-6000.

Meet Our Community Partner: Great Valley Food Cupboard

At the Chester County Food Bank, we’re proud to partner with a number of like-minded organizations around our region, whose missions align with ours.

One such partner is the Great Valley Food Cupboard (GVFC), in Devon. Since 2012, this community-oriented food pantry has made it its mission to help families fill their refrigerators and kitchen shelves with extra food each month. Its tagline is “Compassion in Action,” which is visible each week as it opens its doors to neighbors from surrounding communities. All those who visit the Great Valley Food Cupboard are treated with dignity and respect, and their needs are met with care that’s free of judgment.

Run by a volunteer staff, the GVFC is open each Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the second Wednesday of each month from 6 to 8 p.m. During these hours, residents from the Tredyffrin Easttown School District and Great Valley School District are welcome to come to the cupboard, located in the Education Building of The Baptist Church in the Great Valley at 945 N. Valley Forge Rd. in Devon. GVFC serves more than 250 individuals every month.

Many food cupboards can only offer canned, dried and other nonperishable goods to their guests, but thanks to the partnership with Chester County Food Bank, the Great Valley Food Cupboard is also able to offer fresh fruit and vegetables. According to Carol Claypoole, a church volunteer who runs the food cupboard, clients really appreciate the variety and quality of the food they receive.

“It’s rewarding to see the relief on people’s faces when they receive their groceries,” she said. “Hearing, ‘You made this so easy!’ is always such a great feeling.”

During the spring and summer, the volunteer staff at the Great Valley Food Cupboard look forward to providing produce to clients from the gardens of local gardeners from the Chester County Food Bank’s Raised Bed Garden Program. Carol says, “The raised bed gardens are such a win-win experience for everyone … the folks who grow the gardens are proud to help and the folks that receive the food are so grateful.”

Any families who live in the Great Valley area who are in need of support and would like details on signing up for the Great Valley Food Cupboard should call the church’s office at 610-688-5445. The same number should be used for anyone interested in volunteering, as well.

 

Learn more about the Chester County Food Bank? 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 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 the community to ensure access to real, healthy food.

Emily Kovach

 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Canned Foods CAN be a part of a Healthy Diet

February is American Heart Month and National Canned Food Month, and despite conflicting and sometimes confusing nutritional information, canned foods CAN be beneficial to a heart-healthy and overall healthful diet.

From beans to tuna and fruit (in juice) to tomatoes, canned foods are a pantry staple, and here are three reasons that we like to add them to the plate for healthful eating.

Convenient

Most of us savor the first fresh green bean or vine ripe tomato of the season but when fresh isn’t available or it’s just too expensive, canned alternatives can be a nutritious option. Just be sure to read the label for no/low sodium and no/low sugar.

Having canned foods in the pantry can enable you to have a variety of food no matter the season or supplement fresh foods. When healthy foods are convenient, you are more likely to cook and canned foods make for quick meal prep since they are cleaned, chopped, cooked, and easily portioned, helping you quickly assemble delicious and nutritious meals. Think about it, you can have all the ingredients for a bean chili or veggie-packed soup at the ready in your cupboard with shelf-stable canned ingredients.

 

Affordable

Canned vegetables and fruit can be as much 70% less in cost compared to their fresh or frozen counterparts. Since they have a longer shelf life, they are a great option to reduce food waste and enable you to stock the pantry.

Unfortunately, recent supply chain issues are impacting costs, but canned foods remain the best buy for your dollar (and ours!)

 

Nutritious

Canned food is filled with important nutrients, including fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals essential for a healthy diet.

Canned foods are considered minimally processed; after being cleaned, peeled, chopped, and trimmed, as necessary, foods are cooked in the can to lock in nutrients and flavor. The nutrients from canned foods are a healthy alternative when fresh or frozen foods are not available. Just be sure to read labels for ingredients, no, low/reduced sodium, no syrups/sugar, and look for canned meats in water, not oil or sauce. Draining and rinsing foods can also help to lower salt and sugar content.

So, when you see the Stock Up Can Sale at your local grocery, don’t hesitate to pick up some cans for effortless healthy eating, and we ask that you pick up some extra cans to donate to the Chester County Food Bank or your local cupboard too.  Canned foods (as well as can openers) are a welcomed staple at our network of hunger relief partners and in the cupboards of the people that we serve.

 

The Chester County Food Bank is the central hunger relief organization serving more than 160 food cupboards, meal sites, and social service organizations throughout Chester County. We mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthy food.

 

Photos: Canva

Show Us Some Love! ❤️ Support CCFB by Connecting with Us on Social Media

This February QVC will 𝗱𝗼𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗲 $𝟭 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆 𝗻𝗲𝘄 𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝗼𝗿 𝗳𝗼𝗹𝗹𝗼𝘄 𝘁𝗼 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝘀𝗼𝗰𝗶𝗮𝗹 𝗽𝗮𝗴𝗲𝘀 – up to $10,000! So if you aren’t following us head over to Chester County Food Bank to LIKE us on Facebook or FOLLOW on Instagram and LinkedIn profiles! Help us reach our goal of 10,000 new Likes and Followers across our social media accounts and to raise $10,000 from QVC.  ❤️ xoxox

 

How You Can Show Us the Love
During the month of February, simply “LIKE” or “FOLLOW” Chester County Food Bank’s Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn profiles for your support to count, then spread the word to your friends and family.