FAQ

Below you will find frequently asked questions. If you are not able to find the answer to your question please contact the Food Bank at 610-873-6000 or email us.

For Those in Need of Food

Visit our Need Food page to find the cupboard near you.  If you are unsure of the cupboard closest to you, call the Food Bank at 610-873-6000 and we can help you identify a hunger relief agency that serves your part of town.

Call 2-1-1, a regional social services hotline, to find human and social service resources in your neighborhood. Dial 2-1-1 or 1-866-964-7922 seven days a week from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm to be connected to a 2-1-1 SEPA Information and Referral Specialist. Calls are free and confidential. Interpreter services are available in over 140 languages.

General Questions

Food insecurity when a family or an individual is unable to consistently access safe and nutritious food from socially acceptable sources in order to lead an active and healthy life.

A food bank is not a food pantry. A food pantry is much smaller than a food bank and often serves one community, and in some instances a food pantry will serve a neighborhood. A food bank, on the other hand, often serves an entire county or larger area. A food bank supplies food to hundreds of food pantries throughout a county, state or region. Food banks secure large quantities of food products from commercial suppliers, local donations, the USDA, and other sources. After the product is examined and sorted, it is then offered to the food bank’s nonprofit partners, often food pantries, that provide food to individuals and families in need in the communities they serve.

Each of these organizations is a type of member agency that we serve. Cupboards and pantries provide supplemental food assistance, typically on a monthly basis, to those in need of occasional emergency food assistance. Cupboards/pantries do not charge a fee nor require service from participants in exchange for food. Participants, however, must have self-declared need. Social service agencies provide additional support services in addition to food such as housing, gas, heat, electric and or job searching assistance. Soup kitchens prepare and serve on-site meals to those in need. A small fee or donation may be requested for meals. Soup kitchens and meal sites are open to anyone and do not require a self-declared need.

No. Despite its large size and county-wide presence, the Chester County Food Bank is an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. The Chester County Food Bank does, however, receive some government funding — about 5% of its budget — and, we do distribute government food programs.

In times of disaster, many people can lose access to food, often with little to no warning or time to prepare. In the event of a weather or other emergency, the Food Bank collaborates with the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) to serve those affected in Chester County. Read more about our emergency services.

The Chester County Food Bank offers tours of our facility located in the Eagleview Corporate Center in Exton (650 Pennsylvania Dr.). Interested individuals, corporate, community or school groups will learn more about the Food Bank and how hunger and food insecurity affect our community here in Chester County. Visit our Tour the Food Bank page to schedule your visit.

About Donating Food

The Food Bank, located at 650 Pennsylvania Dr. in Exton, can accept nonperishable food donations of any size during warehouse receiving hours, Monday through Friday 8am – 4pm. If you have a large-scale food donation or food drive please schedule your delivery at least 48 hours in advance by emailing food@chestercountyfoodbank.org or calling us at 610-873-6000. If our warehouse location is not convenient, you can also drop off donations at your local food cupboard. Visit our member agencies to find the cupboard near you. Please contact them in advance for their donation hours.

We appreciate it when food can be dropped off at our warehouse. Transportation is a significant cost for the Food Bank and it is challenging to arrange food drive pick-ups around our daily scheduled food deliveries to member agencies. We encourage you to bring your donation directly to us. If you have collected in excess of two standard truckloads of food and are unable to donate the transportation for your food drive, we can coordinate with you to pick up your donation, depending on the availability of our transportation department. Please contact Claudia Rose-Muir, Food Sourcing Manager at 610-873-6000 x109 or food@chestercountyfoodbank.org.

Food drives are a great way to get a group involved and help those struggling with food insecurity in Chester County. Visit our How to Get Started for more information about organizing a food drive.

The Food Bank does not supply collection bins/boxes. Copy paper boxes and plastic totes work well for most organizations. If using plastic totes/bins, you can take them with you after your delivery and weigh-in at the Food Bank. Visit our Food Drive FAQ for other commonly asked questions specific to food drives.

The Food Bank always needs a variety of nonperishable goods, such as canned tuna, canned chicken, canned fruit, peanut butter, beans and cereal. For more information about donating food see our food drive page. We cannot accept home-made goods, glass jars, or expired food.

Yes, thanks to our 4,250 sq. ft. of commercial refrigeration and freezer space.  Please remember that fresh food spoils quickly so we need to receive it at its peak freshness. If you are donating produce from your garden, we ask that you contact your local cupboard to deliver to them first if possible. Frozen turkeys or hams are always appreciated especially during Thanksgiving and the winter holidays.

Your food donations and food drives along with all of the food we source is distributed through our network of over 120 food cupboards and social service agencies so they can serve those in need in our community.

The Chester County Food Bank puts a high priority on making wholesome, nutritious foods available to our over 120 member agencies and community partners. We distribute over 2.5 million pounds of food with nearly a third of that being fresh produce.

Our sources of food are from farm partnerships and our raised bed gardens, donated food of all sizes from a bag full of groceries to a tractor trailer of bananas, government food programs and purchased food that we are able to acquire through donated dollars and grants.

We are able to partner with commercial businesses such as wholesalers and manufacturers to “rescue” food and produce. The rescued donations become available for a variety reasons such as over production, mislabeling or complications with delivery. The Food Bank is housed in a 36,000 sq. ft. facility that enables us to safely receive and store all size of donations including food rescue or donations from the food industry. We are capable of accepting bulk quantities of dry, shelf-stable, refrigerated and frozen food items. We follow USDA and health department guidelines to ensure the safety of all incoming food items—from a few boxes to delivery from a tractor trailer. All food donors are protected under the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.

All food donations are weighed in as part of our inventory management. After weigh-in, we will give you receipt (based on pounds donated) for tax purposes. The amount you can deduct is the Fair Market Value (FMV) of the donated food, or it’s cost, whichever is lower.

The Food Bank accepts both food and monetary donations. While food donations provide a significant proportion of the Food Bank’s food supply, monetary donations enable the Food Bank to purchase food to supplement food drive donations.

Anytime! People face hunger and food insecurity every day of the year. Although many food and fund donations are made during the holidays, we encourage everyone to donate throughout the year in order to keep our warehouse shelves well-stocked.

This is one of the most frequently asked questions about donating food. All expired food, older than one year, is disposed per USDA regulations. We sort all donated food and separate out food that is ‘post dated’ meaning date printed on item is within the year and ‘expired’ is older than one year.

The dates we see on items in the store have different meanings. What may be considered to be an expiration date, may actually be a best if used by date, meaning the company will only guarantee the freshness and nutritional content up until that date. Other times, these are shelf rotation dates that are used to determine how long a particular item has remained on the shelf.

About Donating Money

We receive contributions through a diversity of revenue sources, including individual donations, corporations, foundation grants and special fundraising events.  In fact, 89% of all donations go directly to supporting our programs to help fight hunger in Chester County.  View our financials for annual report and form 990.

As a registered 501(c)3 organization established in 2009, all monetary donations to the Chester County Food Bank are fully tax-deductible. Our EIN (or tax ID number) is 27-0887311. View our IRS Letter of Determination.

The Food Bank is effective and efficient – 89% of all donations go directly to program and operating costs to help fight hunger in Chester County.  View our financials for our annual report and form 990.

About Volunteering

Check out our Get Involved page for all our volunteer opportunities and to sign up online. Please note: All volunteers must register for a volunteer event ahead of time.

If you would like to volunteer as a group (five or more people), please click here to complete our online group volunteer request form. (Click here for a downloadable PDF). Volunteers must be at least 14 years of age (under 16 must be accompanied by adult volunteers). Contact us at volunteer@chestercountyfoodbank.org to discuss your GROUP volunteering.

For safety purposes, the minimum age for volunteering is fourteen years of age. Volunteers under the age of 16 MUST be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. To volunteer, please visit Get Involved.