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Author Archives: Dish Works

Have a Bounty in Your Garden? Share with Your Neighbors

It’s that glorious time of summer when hours of sunshine during the day and a good soaking from evening thunderstorms make for happy plants, as evidenced by the backyard and community gardens positively exploding with fresh fruits and veggies. You can see the tomato and squash plants growing in leaps and bounds before your very eyes!

Some gardens even become so prolific that the gardener has an overwhelming surplus of products to deal with. Sometimes a bounty can feel like a burden; after months spent tending to plants, the last thing a gardener wants is to watch perfectly good plants rot or be eaten away by pests.

If your garden is growing zucchini faster than you can eat it, by all means, surreptitiously drop off some to your neighbors. Then, consider donating some to the food cupboard closest to you.

Here at the Chester County Food Bank, we receive a lot of questions this time of year about donating fresh food from gardens. Every food cupboard is going to have its own guidelines so don’t be shy about reaching out to ask specific questions before dropping off produce. There are more than 30 crops people could be growing right now, all with different harvest directions. Please review our best practices for harvesting and donating produce or watch this general tips for harvesting video. Please only donate quality produce you would eat yourself. Avoid donating bruised. or overly mature veggies.

One thing we can recommend for sure is not allowing your zucchini to grow to the size of baseball bats! When squash gets too big, the flavor and texture suffer, and the seeds can become tough and inedible. Sure, people can potentially shred one up for zucchini bread or muffins, but this wonderful produce won’t go as far to provide nutrition to families in need as when it can be sautéed, grilled, or otherwise cooked into a healthful meal.

Happy harvesting!

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 visit our Volunteer page. Thanks to you, we’re growing a healthier community.

The Chester County Food Bank is the central hunger relief organization serving more than 150 food cupboards, meal sites and social service organizations throughout Chester County. We mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthful food.

Emily Kovach

 

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

Photos: Pexels

Food Bank & Food Pantry: What’s the Difference?

Though we’ve been around for over a decade, here at the Chester County Food Bank, we notice that there is still sometimes confusion — even among some of our most dedicated supporters — about exactly what we do and how we differ from food pantries and cupboards. We thought it might be helpful to explain here and define some terminology to help clarify!

Some of the issues come from blurry definitions of the terms “food bank” and “food pantry.” When you think of the archetypal, cultural idea of a food bank, perhaps featured on a holiday episode of a television show, it may be of a family picking up a box of food from a church or community center. In fact, that scenario is really taking place at a food pantry (or cupboard), where individuals can go during set hours to obtain food. Usually, these locations are staffed by volunteers, and their mission is to get food into the hands of those who are in need.

Chester County Food Bank, as our name implies, is a food bank, the hub which provides nutritious items to food cupboards. We are a centralized hunger-relief organization, taking in donations from many sources, organizing and storing them in our warehouse, and then redistributing items to our community agency network that includes food pantries/cupboards, meal sites, and schools for example. While we don’t provide boxes of food directly to individuals, we still encourage anyone who needs food to contact us, as we are more than happy to connect you with the many resources within our county that can help.

Part of our role as a food bank (versus a cupboard) is that we take a strategic, holistic approach to combating food insecurity. Yes, distributing food to local cupboards is part of this, but we go even further, with advocacy and educational initiatives like Taste It! and Eat Fresh, supplemental feeding programs for school-aged children and seniors, emergency response food boxes, and our Garden Program, which is part of the reason that we can provide so much fresh food to local cupboards.

 

 

While we are affiliated with a number of community partners, we are an independent organization. So if you’re considering donating and you want your dollars to stay in Chester County, please note that we are the only food bank in the county. While we are one of the wealthiest counties in Pennsylvania, one out of 10 people in our community struggle to put food on the table and are without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable and nutritious food at any given time.

We hope this has been a helpful explanation of how we — a food bank — are different from a food pantry. We think of it like this: Chester County Food Bank is the hub in the center of a wheel, and all of the spokes reach out to our community agency network that can connect one-on-one with the neighbors in need in Chester County.

Want to learn more? You can also donate food, funds and time to help us achieve our mission or call (610) 873-6000 to speak to someone about getting involved 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, healthy food.

Emily Kovach

Photos: Chester County Food Bank

 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Get Your Hands Dirty for a Great Cause: Start a Raised Bed Garden

Did you know that the Chester County Food Bank is well-versed in the education and execution of raised-bed gardens? Imagine being able to participate in a thriving program that provides an excuse for some built-in therapy, courtesy of Mother Nature while growing fresh produce for food insecure neighbors within your community.

Gardens are powerful places for growing community, sharing knowledge and, of course, sharing food. The partner gardens play a crucial role in getting fresh produce out into their communities. Our garden partners collectively grow 40,000 pounds of vegetables annually for our network of food cupboards and meal sites.

What exactly is a raised-bed garden?

Wood-framed raised-garden beds, also called garden boxes, are great for growing small plots of vegetables and flowers. They keep pathway weeds from the garden soil, prevent soil compaction, provide good drainage and serve as a barrier to pests such as slugs and snails.

Where are the Food Bank’s raised-bed gardens?

With roots stemming from the Gleaning Program in 1997, the raised bed garden program was adopted by the Food Bank in 2009 with six partner garden sites, and has since grown to over 100 gardens hosted at schools, food cupboards and social service agencies. Our raised bed garden manager and garden educator work with host sites for their initial garden set up and educational support.

I want to help. Where can I find out more about starting my own garden?

We encourage home gardeners to grow and donate produce to your local food cupboard. Please review our best practices for harvesting and donating produce. We ask that you only donate quality produce – avoid donating bruised or overly mature veggies – no giant zucchini please!  Questions about donating produce contact Catie Hargraves, Produce Manager at chargraves@chestercountyfoodbank.org or 610-873-6000 x125

If you don’t have a home garden, we invite you to join us for volunteer opportunities at some of our host sites.

 

When is a good time to begin my garden?

With gardening, any time is a great time to begin. Check out are gardening resources from container gardening, to building a raised bed, to our collection of tutorial videos.

You can also donate foodfunds and time to help us achieve our mission. Call (610) 873-6000 to speak to someone about getting involved. 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, healthy food. 

Ed Williams

NOTE: This post was originally published in March 2017 and has been modified for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Meet the Team: The Tuesday Terrors Volunteers

Here at the Chester County Food Bank, we rely on our generous volunteers for so much of what we are able to accomplish. From processing donations to staffing events, it is thanks to the energy and dedication of our amazing volunteers that we can continue to help so many families and individuals in our community to have access to nourishing food and educational programming.

While we greatly appreciate all of our volunteers, there is an extra-special group that has been volunteering with the CCFB for years. This good-natured crew of volunteers is lovingly referred to as the “Tuesday Terrors.” They give their time every Tuesday morning in our warehouse and kitchen, and then all go out to lunch together afterward! (The pandemic of course has changed their lunch plans.) Throughout their years of service, the group has become a coordinated and well-trained team that can manage a number of tasks with limited supervision. From 9 a.m. until noon every Tuesday, they sort donated food, clean veggies, pack Meals on Wheels and pitch in wherever else they are needed.

Gerry Miller and his wife, Sue, joined the Tuesday Terrors in 2013 because they had both retired and wanted to participate in an activity that was socially engaging and benefited the community. One of their neighbors suggested the CCFB because they had a very positive experience volunteering with us. Gerry and Sue have fulfilled their goals with the Tuesday Terrors. Gerry said, “For Sue and me, the best parts are the camaraderie, and helping those in the community who might otherwise go hungry.”

Gerry says their group would be happy to welcome others, and encourages anyone interested to give volunteering a try. “You’ll meet a lot of wonderful people, volunteer in a very positive environment and discover that you are playing an important role in helping get food to people in need.”

Another Tuesday Terror, Gail Kimble, enjoys that the group is made up of strangers from diverse backgrounds who became friends. “We work hard, laugh a lot, share stories and care about each other and our families in a special way. We enjoy the work and are happy to help families who may be hungry,” she said. Her favorite part of volunteering at CCFB? “Knowing that in a small way I can impact someone’s life.”

Jerry West started volunteering at the CCFB in 2010 when we were still in our former location in Guthriesville. He’s found the experience to be satisfying in a fundamental way. “Volunteering lets me use my many skills that I have learned over my 80 years,” he said. “I feel I am giving back to others who need a helping hand.”

If you’d like to join the Tuesday Terrors or volunteer with the Chester County Food Bank in any capacity, let us know! You can check out our Volunteer FAQ page for more information, and email volunteer@chestercountyfoodbank.org with unanswered questions or to get involved.

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 mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthy food.

Emily Kovach

 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.Photos were taken prior to CDC mask-wearing guidelines but we wanted to show smiles 🙂

4 Ways to Make the Most of Hunger Action Month

At the Chester County Food Bank, we’re working year-round to end hunger and food insecurity in our communities. No matter the season, we’re mobilizing our staff and volunteers to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors in need, from Simple Suppers to nutrition education.

That said, September is a preview to the giving season, as it’s Hunger Action Month, a wide-reaching initiative from Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. For us, food insecurity is a priority day in and day out; still, September gives us a chance to address issues of hunger in a more high-profile way.

There are plenty of ways to get involved in Hunger Action Month this year, but here are four that can help you to make the most of it:

1. Practice Acts of Advocacy

Advocacy is central to what we do at the Food Bank. We count on public support to help further our mission and accomplish our goals, and without a network of allies to help us spread the word about our work, we’d be in trouble. We can organize and take action, but to make the biggest impact, we need our supporters to help share the important message about how hunger affects those living in our cities and towns.

During Hunger Action Month, you can also practice advocacy in the following ways:

  • Join us in speaking out for the importance of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. SNAP is crucial for so many in the Commonwealth. Recently introduced federal rules will cause thousands of Pennsylvanians to suffer from hunger, Food Banks and the charitable food network to strain to meet increased demand, and retailers and food producers to lose profits and experience a more constrained customer base. Learn more about SNAP and how your vote matters in protecting these important programs.
  • Prepare to use your voting power to stave off hunger! September 22nd is #NationalVoterRegistrationDay and it is easier than ever to register in Pennsylvania! Residents can register online or check their registration status by visiting VotesPA.com. The last day to register in time to vote (November 3) is October 19th. Don’t delay, register today!

2. Donate Food (Virtually)

We may not be able to gather a group of friends in person, but you can virtually host a food drive. Rather than bringing people together in person or encouraging them to go out shopping for a traditional food drive, we are asking for people to host a virtual food drive, Individual or Team fundraiser through our online platform.  Your financial gift enables us to purchase the most needed foods to create emergency food boxes but also provide fresh fruits and vegetables to help the many people across Chester County that have been severely impacted by missed work, increased childcare expenses, and uncovered medical bills.

 

3. Get to Know CCFB a Little Better

Brush up on CCFB’s mission and programs by watching a few of our videos! A great place to start is with our mini-documentary, A Fresh Approach, which is all about our history and our work in the community. Be sure to check out our Eat Fresh classes and try out a new recipe. 

4. Sign Up to Volunteer

Whether you’re new to CCFB or you’ve been a supporter for years, we’d love to have you pitch in as a volunteer. If you like to cook, garden, work with children or just spend some social time with others helping out a good cause, there is an opportunity waiting for you at the Food Bank! Commitments range from one afternoon-long session to ongoing shifts — it’s completely up to you and your availability! Come alone or as part of a team. See here for sign up info.

No matter how you choose to get involved, make Hunger Action Month a time that you look forward to each September to help Chester County Food Bank further our work in the community!

Want to learn more? Watch our our new mission video, sign up for our newsletter and stay connected. 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 our community to ensure access to real, healthy food.

Emily Kovach

Photos: Chester County Food Bank

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Your Dollar + Our Buying Power = A Winning Combo

At the Chester County Food Bank, we procure food for our community partners in a number of ways. Some items come from generous donations from our supporters, while others from food drives. But we buy a lot of food, too—in fact, 42% of our food inventory comes from the food we purchase using money from grants, donations and virtual food drives. And that number is trending upward due to the increase in purchases during the pandemic. It’s with those dollars that we can harness our buying power and stretch those funds to an amazing extent.

How do we do this? We have a number of different avenues that we pursue to take each dollar further:

  • Farmers: Over the years, we’ve developed relationships with local farmers in addition to having our own agriculture program and two staff farmers. Between our farm connections and own planning, we can forecast what we’re looking for in terms of variety and quantity of fresh produce, and then buy in bulk from partners at discounted prices and grow for own programs such as Fresh2You Mobile Market and Eat Fresh.

  • Wholesalers: Through our relationship with Philabundance, which began in 2016, and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Cooperative (MARC) we’re able to get great leads on especially good wholesale deals on food. Wholesalers generously donate some food, which helps us offset the cost of more expensive items. For example, if we purchase apples at 70 cents per pound and can get a matching quantity donated, it’s as if we’ve purchased all of the apples for just 35 cents per pound.
  • Produce auctions: This is how we obtain most of our fresh produce. On Tuesday, you can find us at the Leola Produce Auction, scouting out the best deals on fruits and veggies. Amish and Mennonite farmers bring carts and truckloads of produce and auctioneers sell them off to a crowd of 50 or more buyers.

To stretch funds even further, we are constantly forming informal cooperatives with other food banks, because when many food banks band together and buy a truckload of an item, it’s that much cheaper. In these creative, economically efficient ways, CCFB’s buying power keeps growing exponentially more each year.

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 mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthy food. 

Emily Kovach

 

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

It’s Not Too Late to Start Your Container Garden

Gardening can be a wonderful pastime: It provides opportunities to go outdoors, to connect with nature, to work with our hands, and to enjoy the productivity of raising and caring for plants. Edible gardens go one step further, yielding fresh herbs and produce to enjoy from the early spring through late fall. 

We have heard from many people in our communities that they are starting gardens this year, and we think that’s great! While we’re always in favor of gardening, it feels especially relevant these days, as we are all more aware of food insecurity. Plus, many of us have more time on our hands to devote to a garden! 

We’ve begun to field numerous questions about container gardening from our supporters and neighbors  — if you are ready to get your hands dirty, but aren’t quite sure how to get started, you’ve come to the right place! 

Here at Chester County Food Bank we’ve been managing gardens and helping people start new plots through our Raised Bed Garden program for more than 10 years. Our Raised Bed Garden manager and garden educator work with host sites for their initial garden set-up and educational support. With their help, our garden partners collectively grow more than 40,000 pounds of fresh vegetables for our partner food cupboards and agencies throughout Chester County!

Photo credit: Raw Pixel

Container gardening is nothing new to us, and we have some tips and resources to help you start or improve your at-home container garden this year:

A great place to start is with our container gardening best-practice guide, created with the input of our amazing gardening staff, folks from the Oregon Food Bank and the experts at PennState Extension. You can print out the handy PDF guide; it covers all of the basics you need, like choosing a container, deciding what to grow and what not to grow, how much to water and fertilize, plus a list of other resources for further reading.

Your next step is to identify the plants you want to grow, and how many containers you have space for. If you don’t have a lot of outdoor space, consider a fire escape, windowsill, or a corner of your back patio. The best thing about container gardens is you don’t need a huge yard — any little patch of sunlight will do!

Growing in containers is a great option if you have limited space. Choose quick maturing crops like radish and lettuce, or dwarf varieties of tomatoes.

Different plants require different planting methods, including how close together to plant the seeds or seedlings. Our team has put together a helpful series of video tutorials to help with this first step of the process. We have 18 tutorials explaining planting of common garden veggies, like spinach, tomatoes, eggplant, carrots and more!   

When it comes to containers you do not need anything fancy. Choose containers that are between 1 and 5 gallon capacity. Small pots restrict the root area and dry out very quickly, so when in doubt, size up. Whatever you use for a container will need drainage holes. Clean buckets, tins and even plastic storage containers can work if you drill or poke a few holes in the bottom for water to flow out. Sanitized kitty litter buckets are the preferred container of many budget-savvy home gardeners! Other items you might recycle, like milk jugs and large yogurt containers can be used to house smaller plants, like herbs. 

When using containers, it’s extra-important to water and fertilize your plants regularly. Because their root systems aren’t connected to the earth below, they rely on you to provide these essential components.

Containers lose moisture and nutrients quickly. They’ll likely need to be watered every day in the heat of summer. When it comes to fertilizers, liquid fish emulsion or liquid seaweed are good to use. Containers should be fertilized once a week after the plant is firmly established.

Once your garden is planted and flourishing, consider planting to donate to Chester County Food Bank. Providing fresh produce to our neighbors in need is integral to our mission to fight food insecurity in our community, and every little bit helps. Peas, peppers and eggplants are great options to consider, as they travel well and stay fresh for a long time after harvest. You can also donate a bumper crop! If you end up growing way more zucchini, cucumbers, beans or anything else faster than you can eat it, consider bringing that to us, as well! For more information on, and best practices about, donating garden produce, see here.

We hope you feel excited and empowered to start your own container garden! Once you get in the groove, you’ll be amazed at the profound satisfaction that comes from growing your own food, even if it’s just a few containers of herbs, tomatoes and lettuce! Be sure to share your photos on Facebook and Instagram and tag your garden photos with #GetGrowingChesterCounty

Want to learn more? Check out our mission video, sign up for our newsletter and stay connected. 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 to 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, healthy food.

Emily Kovach

Featured photo & third photo: Chester County Food Bank

Join CCFB’s ‘Beyond Hunger 365’ Sustaining Giving Program

At Chester County Food Bank our mission is to end food insecurity among our neighbors in Chester County, Pennsylvania. As humans, eating is one of our most basic needs, and so in a way, providing people with consistent, reliable access to nutrient-rich food is about so much more than just sufficient calories. When we help our community access food, we’re helping them thrive in other ways, too: For children, that might mean being better able to concentrate on, and participate in, school work, or to sleep better at night; for adults, it might mean providing energy for exercise, child care or work. In serving our community with food, we help to sustain their lives and livelihoods. 

And now, we’re asking you to help be part of this effort — to help sustain the sustainers. Will you be a part of our new “Beyond Hunger 365 monthly giving community? We appreciate every single monetary donation and every item of food that comes to us from fundraisers and one-time donations. But, to carry on our mission to the best of our ability, we’re looking for a group of supporters who are passionate about changing the face of hunger in our county to pledge a consistent amount each month. 

We call the program “Beyond Hunger 365” because this truly sums up the scope of food insecurity and the magnitude of the problem we’re fighting to solve. Families who are struggling to consistently put enough food on their tables aren’t just struggling during the holidays. It’s an issue that’s relevant every day of every month of the year. In fact, 1 in 4 households and more than 75,000 of our neighbors face food insecurity year-round, and together, we can make a big impact in our neighborhoods to ensure access to real, healthy food.

To help make a real change, a monthly gift doesn’t need to be monumental. Actually, just like putting money aside in a college fund, into retirement, or toward another savings goal, a small amount that is set aside each month can really add up! This “set it and forget it” principle is not only effective for donors, but it is also great for the organization (that’s us, CCFB). Through this program, we can look at the fiscal year ahead and have an accurate sense of the funds that will be consistently available for our work.

For example, a monthly gift of just $10 is enough to provide fresh produce to a family of two through our fruit and veggie prescription program, Fresh2You FVRx. That’s the equivalent of one lunch a month that you pack instead of grabbing takeout. A monthly gift of $30 will help provide a month’s worth of food to two seniors, some of the most vulnerable people in our community, through our Senior Food Box program. Even just $5, the price of a fancy morning latte, can help to make an enormous difference in the life of someone in need. 

Kristin Dormuth is a CCFB supporter who believes that, as a society, “we have the responsibility to take care of each other, and that everyone deserves to have good, nutritious food.” She became a sustained giver in 2012, after finishing graduate school and entering the workforce. Since then, as circumstances allow, she’s increased her monthly donation from time to time. She says that being a sustained supporter is advantageous for a few reasons. 

“For one, sustaining supporters allow CCFB to have a steady stream of income year-round,” she notes. “For another, it allows me to spread my giving throughout the year. It’s easier for me to budget and give a bit of money monthly, rather than one larger donation at year-end.”

Join us today, and remember: A little goes a long way! Together we can make an amazing impact in Chester County.

Want to learn more? Check out our mission video, sign up for our newsletter and stay connected. 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 to request a tour. Thanks to you, we’re growing a healthier community in Chester County, PA.

 

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, healthy food.

Emily Kovach

 

How to Give Back on Giving Tuesday and During the Holidays

This time of year, there’s a lot of spending going on—it seems as soon as the Halloween costumes are barely put away athat the frenzy of holiday consumerism is upon us. Of course, there’s Black Friday, when megastores and malls around the country break out their craziest deals and shoppers line up for hours in the cold night to take advantage of sunrise deals.

Over the past decade or so, other shopping occasions have been tacked onto the post-Thanksgiving weekend: Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and, more recently, Giving Tuesday. While we’re not opposed to bargain hunting or great online savings, Giving Tuesday is the day that’s most important to us.

Giving Tuesday launched in 2012 as an initiative begun by the 92nd Street Y in New York City and the United Nations Foundation. The day, focused on charitable giving, is positioned as a response to the nonstop commercialization at the start of the holiday shopping season.

Although we understand that people have been asked to dig deep into their pockets throughout the year to help with natural disaster relief efforts, wildfires and the growing list of local and global causes that matter to them, we want to remind you to give locally as well. Just as you try to boost the local economy by shopping at the farmers market and supporting independent retailers, please remember your neighbors in need right here in Chester County with a Giving Tuesday donation to Chester County Food Bank on Tuesday, December 3.

At the CCFB, we can turn every dollar given into four dollars’ worth of healthy food. By leveraging our buying power, working with markets and local organizations to rescue food and communicating with our network of farm partners to glean excess crops, we are able to really stretch out our supporters’ generous monetary donations. We use these donations—and the food we can buy with them—to further our many initiatives and programs that combat food insecurity in our communities.

Every year, we notice a cultural switch around charitable giving. Thanksgiving is all about food, but as we turn the corner toward Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, many people begin to donate toys (to other organizations). Gifts for children are important, but hunger never takes a break, especially in the winter, when colder weather often drives up families’ expenses with higher heating bills. As we so often say, hunger lives closer than you think. Though Chester County is home to many middle- and upper middle-class families, many of our neighbors are working families just barely scraping by. In fact, 27 percent of households in Chester County struggle to make ends meet, and the added financial pressures around the holiday can exacerbate the problem.

Anne Shuniak, CCFB’s marketing and communications manager, reminds us that it’s not just the holidays we’re preparing for. “We’re stocking our shelves for winter days ahead too,” she said. “We’re trying to bring in as much as we can during this time, because it’s always the trend that things slow down in the New Year after the holiday season has passed.”

So as you gear up for holiday giving, consider a monetary donation—our online giving platform includes an easy way to make a tribute gift in a loved one’s honor or memory, and we’ll even send someone a card via email letting them know of your generous gift. What a cool idea for a unique hostess gift, or for a meaningful gesture instead of a physical gift! You can also designate CCFB as your preferred charity on Amazon Smile, and give back while shopping for all the friends and family on your holiday list!

If you’d like to make a food donation, we’re currently most in need of pantry staples like pasta, rice, hearty soups, and canned chicken and tuna. We do accept holiday-specific items, like turkeys, hams and instant potatoes, but its the pantry staples that really help local families put together those day-to-day meals that are just as important (nutritionally) as big holiday feasts. Food donations can be dropped off at our facility in Exton Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Please bring food donations to our warehouse loading dock entrance, where you can pull directly in and will be assisted unloading your vehicle. Note that we will be close at noon on December 23rd and remain closed through January 1, 2020. We will return to the office at 8 a.m. on Thursday, January 2, 2020.

Thank you for your support and generosity all year long, and for considering us as your focus on Giving Tuesday and the 2019 holiday season!

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; Chester County Food Bank; Ed Williams; Pexels

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

Celebrate Your Birthday with Chester County Food Bank

There are plenty of social media trends that come into our feeds but don’t strike much interest. But one emerging trend that we can get behind is people asking for donations to charitable causes via social media in lieu of birthday (anniversary, housewarming) presents. It’s such a creative, personal way for people to engage with their communities, both near and far, and to fundraise for an issue or organization that’s meaningful to them.

In the past year or two, we’ve noticed lots of our amazing supporters using Facebook and other platforms to gather birthday/celebration donations for Chester County Food Bank (CCFB), and for that we cannot thank you enough! It warms our hearts to see the selflessness and generosity that are behind these online fundraisers.

Jason Bauer with his mom and sister. Photo courtesy of Lori Bauer.

Many adults have given up expecting a huge party and heaps of presents for their birthdays, but it’s something extra-special when kids use their birthdays as a way to encourage friends and family to donate time or money to good causes. We have two stories of kids who recently turned their birthdays into occasions to give back to their communities through the CCFB.

In August 2019, the only thing Jason Bauer wanted for his 12th birthday was to volunteer with his mother and sister at one of our raised bed gardens in Springton. Twelve is the minimum age for volunteers at the CCFB, and Jason wanted to do it at the first possible opportunity. He got his wish, and he and his family spent a beautiful afternoon helping to harvest produce to feed our neighbors in need. 

“It was something he had been really excited about for a while,” said Jason’s mom, Lori Bauer. “Jason, his sister, and I all loved it and found it very rewarding and humbling. The people who worked and volunteered there were all so kind and welcoming and helped make it a very wonderful experience!”

Lori says that Jason’s interest in the Chester County Food Bank started last year when one of his teachers spoke to the class about saving the planet. This school lesson inspired him to start fundraising for CCFB.

“He did this through selling handmade toys and lemonade, as well as fundraising (with my help) via email and social media,” said Lori. “I’ve never seen his face light up more than when he saw the donation amount increase!”

So far, Jason’s efforts, including a Go Fund Me Campaign, have raised nearly $400 that he plans to donate to the Chester County Food Bank. In his Go Fund Me statement, Jason says that he’s done some research and “found out that if we donate money instead of canned foods, our money not only can buy more food, it can also buy healthier options, like fruits and vegetables.” This is true! Of course, food drives are hugely important to what CCFB does, but with donated funds, we’re able to use our buying power to procure huge quantities of fresh produce from produce auctions, which helps us to fulfill our commitment to nutrition

Another inspiring story came to us last July when another local child, Dylan Houck, used his birthday as the organizing force behind a food drive — and the community really stepped up to get involved and support his efforts. Dylan’s goal was to raise more than 3,000 pounds of food, which he handily achieved: 3,124 pounds of food ended up going to the CCFB and an additional 160 pounds of food to a local family. This incredible haul consisted of 452 cans of chicken and tuna, 700 boxes of mac and cheese, 221 jars of peanut butter, 155 boxes of cereal and literally tons more! It’s truly inspiring to see what is possible when a group of people band together to make a difference in their town or region!

If these kids can go without new books, toys and clothes for one birthday, anyone can! Consider using your next birthday, anniversary or other celebration as a way to mobilize your social circles into some positive action. (We’ve created a fun Facebook birthday fundraiser cover to get you started. ) 

 

Want to learn more? Watch our our new mission video, sign up for our newsletter and stay connected. 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 our community to ensure access to real, healthy food.

Emily Kovach

Feature photo: Pexels