Author Archives: Anne Shuniak

The Power of a Neighbor: Wegmans’ “Check Out for Hunger” Campaign for the Chester County Food Bank

Jose Frazer is modest about his role in the process to end hunger in Chester County. As an 11-year employee of Wegmans Food Markets, Jose, area service manager, beams, “I love working for Wegmans. Coming from the restaurant business, I started in the cheese department here. This company provides so much of a positive environment—not only for the employees, but also in their commitment and hands-on involvement in the local community as well.”

Celebrating 100 years as a family-owned company this year, the Wegmans Downingtown and Malvern stores recently presented the Chester County Food Bank with a check for $120,367 and a truckload of nearly 18,000 pounds of nonperishable food as a result of the “Check Out for Hunger” campaign, which ran from October through December 2015.

As part of the campaign, both customers and employees contributed single-digit monetary donations at checkout. “Of course we provided the cashiers with incentives such as gift cards, dinner packages, coffee, tea and candy prizes—but we also shared videos and personal stories of how some of us were personally affected by hunger or food programs growing up,” shares Jose. “I grew up in Philadelphia. My own family sometimes relied on churches, food bank programs and valued neighbors to make ends meet. I’ve experienced firsthand knowing the value of a crucial partnership such as Wegmans and the Chester County Food Bank,” he added, bringing his point home.

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Jose continues with praise of the teams of cashiers “who went over and above with their dedication to get customers involved in the donation process.” Regionally, the Wegmans teams raised $41,730 more than last year, with the Downingtown and Malvern stores showing an increase in donations of over $28,000. Working with the Food Bank for the past five years, Jose explains, “The competition between stores is great because in the end it benefits the people who need it most.”

Additionally, the employees who raised the highest amounts were given the opportunity to help unload and organize 20 pallets of food, including canned soups, vegetables and fruit, peanut butter, canned tuna, cereal and juice, at the Food Bank’s Exton distribution center.

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Larry Welsch, executive director of the Food Bank, reflects, “When the Chester County Food Bank started operations in 2009, Wegmans was the friendly neighbor that stopped by with the welcome basket—well, more like a welcome truckload of food. They have been the neighbor that we can depend on. We have never taken their generosity for granted, and each year that we are the recipient of Check Out Hunger we are truly grateful beyond words. We are thankful to be one of the many food banks that Wegmans supports regionally with their corporate giving programs. In order to tackle food insecurity, we have to do it together.”

Anne Shuniak, community engagement and marketing manager, adds, “We also appreciate each and every employee who made this annual campaign a success. Jose is not only a manager who motivates—he’s an example of an individual who gets involved to make a difference. He truly gets what it means to have the support of good neighbors. His smile is contagious and his attitude an inspiration. I value our professional relationship immensely.”

These community partnerships are like the neighbors we come to depend on to hopefully one day end hunger. With the unending generous support of the Wegmans Food Market family, the Chester County Food Bank is one step closer to doing just that.

 

Chester County Food Bank Hits the Road with a Fresh New Look

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s super trucks! The Chester County Food Bank is introducing three freshly designed “wrapped” box trucks, now plowing through the rolling hills and sweeping valleys of Chester County. Keep an eye out for these new vehicles in Oxford, Phoenixville, Kennett Square, West Chester and back to the home port at the Eagleview Campus in Exton.

“Many in our community don’t realize just how much ground we cover,” explains Anne Shuniak, community engagement & marketing manager. “We are ecstatic to get these trucks out on the road while getting our name, our image and our mission into the view of the neighborhoods we serve.”

The smart logo and crisp color scheme have been precisely orchestrated with Miller Designworks of Phoenixville in conjunction with a recently harvested brand campaign and website design for the food bank. The soft but succinct earth-toned scene on these rigs incorporates the bucolic landscape and farm-based feel, which illustrate the transport’s mission—not to mention the prominently displayed phone number and web address.

Two of the vehicles are Penske leased trucks, and one is a food bank owned “baby” truck—which the staff affectionately calls “Bandit.” All have been lovingly “wrapped” with new signage by Paramount Sign Company in Downingtown, each of which took about a day to complete. Anne, who met owner Rick Panczner at a local networking event, felt it was very important to “keep the design and execution process within the local community. It was a true local collaboration,” she punctuates.

Nick Popov, who’s been the food bank’s distribution manager for over five years, emphasizes, “Having three of these trucks is beneficial for the wide area we need to cover here in the county. We have fully licensed and trained drivers who know the ins and outs of traffic in this area.”

Asked what challenges he faces, Nick was quick to point out that “many of the pickup and dropoff locations don’t have loading docks, so it becomes somewhat difficult to find a safe location to park and do the food swap, but we have it down to a science.”

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The trucks are scheduled by Nick weekly out of the food bank’s warehouse to hit several of over 100 partner agencies, food cupboards, shelters and corporations, where they pick up and deliver seasonal cargo. The edibles are then prepped and packaged back at the kitchen in the food bank’s Eagleview Campus location by staff and a generous pool of volunteers to get distributed back out into the communities served.

There is enough real estate inside these harbingers of healthful sustenance to dole out over 2.5 million pounds of fresh produce and donated nonperishables a year to every nook and cranny in Chester County. Fuel is budgeted at just over $32,000 annually, and preventative maintenance for the two largest trucks is handled by the leasing company.

An additional cargo van is slated to be wrapped in March and will be used for quick stops at smaller farms like Pete’s Produce in Westtown or Sankanac CSA in Kimberton and in areas that may be difficult to reach with the larger vehicles.

The Chester County Food Bank, now in its sixth year of operation, has a mission of providing food to those in need in the county while focusing on the role that hunger plays in health, poverty and education.

Did you know that 1 in 14 residents of Chester County is hungry and lacks reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food? Thanks to the power of these trucks and the determination of the staff and volunteers of the Chester County Food Bank and the umbrella cupboards, agencies and organizations, the food bank hopes to improve the statistics.

The next time you see one of the new superhero trucks in your neighborhood, honk your horn and give a wave in support of this team effort to alleviate hunger in Chester County. That’s a wrap.

Photos: The Town Dish