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About the Food Bank

Peeling the Onion: The 411 on the Chester County Food Bank

Since its inception in 2009, the Chester County Food Bank has been on a dedicated vision for a food secure Chester County, but do you know how we do it, what we promote or how the education that we provide benefits the community?

There are many life-changing layers of this onion to peel. CCFB does so much more than collect canned goods, sort fresh produce, and raise awareness of the need to help over 50,000 people. Take a look at the snapshot below.

The Who

A dedicated board of directors and a tireless staff work together with enthusiastic volunteers to come up with ways to benefit local communities through:

  • Distribution of fresh food and nonperishable items throughout the county through our network of hunger relief organizations and programs
  • Education & Wellness programs to educate on the benefits of food access, healthy food preparation, and teaching healthy cooking habits
  • Providing the means to organize and promote successful food drives and virtual fundraisers with schools, businesses, organizations, and individuals
  • Providing maps and lists of food cupboards, soup kitchens, and other hot meal sites for those in need and those who wish to help

The How

It takes a tremendous amount of people-power to bring about positive change in Chester County. Take a look at just a few examples of how the Food Bank makes an impact.

Food Drives and Virtual Fundraisers: Schools, corporations, and personal food drives are a valuable resource to acquire much-needed nonperishable items to stock the shelves of the distribution center.

Gardens: a network of nearly 100 garden sites provide fresh produce to local food cupboards from May through November.

Farms: Partnerships with local farms like Pete’s Produce Farm and Springton Manor Farm are essential in providing fresh produce to the Food Bank for distribution.

Commercial Kitchen: This first stop is where food is cleaned, sorted, and packaged by a core team of hard-working volunteers.

Distribution: The Food Bank operates from its sole facility in Exton, where food arrives from local farms, corporations, individuals and government programs to be prepped for over 160 cupboards, pantries and partners that are located throughout Chester County.

Food Sourcing: The Chester County Food Bank uses its financial resources to purchase perishable and nonperishable food for those in need throughout the year.

Education: The Food Bank teaches the community about the importance of healthy eating through education & wellness programs, recipes, cooking classes and the Fresh2You Mobile Market.

The Why

  • Be informed. Did you know that a single parent working to sustain a minimum wage job would need to work 80 hours per week to sustainably live in this area? Are you aware that 57% of food insecure households in Chester County, meaning that they lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food – are ineligible for government food assistance because their income is too high?
  • Donate. It’s no surprise that it takes time and money to help our neighbors. Every little bit helps. Donate today!

As you can see, there are many layers of the Chester County Food Bank. Fortunately, because of neighbors like you, the Food Bank can continue to make a difference in our community by providing assistance for individuals and families in need. Want to learn more? Check out the Food Bank’s website or “like” the Food Bank on Facebook or “follow” on Instagram for community facts, program highlights, and donation and volunteer opportunities.

The Chester County Food Bank is located at 650 Pennsylvania Dr. in Exton; phone: 610-873-6000.

 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Chester County Food Bank’s Sustained Commitment to Nutrition

When it comes to food and dietary choices, many of us have learned that it’s more about quality than quantity. But for many of our neighbors in Chester County, it’s really about both. Quantity — that is, simply enough food on the table, day after day — is the primary struggle for many families and individuals facing food insecurity. When meals are unpredictable or scarce, quality often isn’t even a luxury that can be factored into the equation.

Here at the Chester County Food Bank, we’re aiming to change that.  We listen to what clients are requesting at the pantries. Seniors like low sodium items for health reasons. Families ask for healthier snacks for their kids.  No matter where people are getting their food from, we believe they shouldn’t have to sacrifice nutrition and quality when it comes to the food they’re putting into their bodies.

For many years, we haven’t distributed soda and other sweetened beverages or candy donations in large quantities, and have also worked nonstop to find innovative ways to provide fresh food to our clients via our Fresh2You Mobile Market, the Fresh2You Fruit & Vegetable Prescription (FVRx) program, Taste It! and Eat Fresh educational platforms, Raised Bed Garden Program and more.

“Our goal at the Food Bank is to not add to that problem, and to expand access to what people on a limited income can afford,” said Roberta Cosentino, Director of Community Food Access & Education Programs.

Our community food security assessment gathered feedback from over 1,000 of our food pantry members through surveys and focus groups. We received an overwhelming response that pantry members are concerned about their health and the most important foods when coming to the pantry are fresh produce, quality protein, and healthy dairy items. Over the course of the next few years, our goal is to provide more of these items, which can often be higher in price, and so out of reach for many people. Then, with those items taken care of, our clients can readjust their food budgets and have more to spend on items of their choosing to fill in around what we provide.

For instance, we want to distribute less of the highly processed canned items which are typically loaded with high fructose corn syrup, added sugar, and sodium, and replace them with items with simple ingredients and recipes that are for eating every day.

CCFB continues to monitor the foods that we purchase with donated dollars and government funds more closely to be sure they’re as nutritionally impactful as possible while also meeting our clients’ expressed needs. Of course, we still want to provide cereals (low in added sugar), fruit in juice, and canned proteins like tuna, chicken and beans, but are going to pass by options that include high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oil (trans fat) and excessive added sugars. (As far as food drives and donations are concerned, we are still happy to receive items from our most wanted food items list)


We’re excited to embark on this next step of our journey to help fight insecurity and go beyond hunger in Chester County. If you have any questions about our commitment to nutrition, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask!

Want to learn more? 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 March 2019 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

 

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.

Need Food? How to Get Help in Chester County

Finding yourself in a position of food insecurity can happen at any time. It’s not pleasant to think about, but an injury, layoff from work, family illness, or another unforeseen change can drastically affect your circumstances.

This scenario understandably makes many people feel vulnerable and overwhelmed, and figuring out how and where to ask for help can be a challenge. If you don’t know where to turn, we’re here to help. Chester County Food Bank has made it our mission to help our neighbors in need combat food insecurity by connecting them with programs and resources across the county that can be of assistance. From our Weekend Backpack Program for school-aged children to our Grocery Boxes for Seniors, our staff and team of dedicated volunteers work tirelessly to make sure that no one in our community is overlooked.

First, see if you fall within the footprint of our region by visiting the Need Food button in the upper right of our website. There is an interactive map that illustrates our impact across Chester County. You can look for your community and find a food pantry and hot meal sites. There’s a difference between a food bank like we are, and the food pantries that actually send clients home with food. So while we aren’t a pick-up site for food, we can connect you with one of the 160 local agencies we work with where that service is available. If you’d prefer to speak with someone on the phone, call us at (610) 873-6000 and we’ll help you identify a hunger relief agency that serves your part of town. We also have staff members that speak Spanish.

Once you find a food pantry or cupboard close to your home (usually based on school district lines), you’ll need to gather a few materials to sign up.

To qualify at a food cupboard, a client must:

  • Provide name, date of birth, and proof of address.
  • Report total household income (this is a self-declaration based on 150% of the poverty line).

Learn more about this process here.

Outside of food cupboards, there are a number of social service organizations throughout Chester County. Get more info at our Community Partners page about the ways the agencies we work with can help to provide food, shelter, childcare, counseling, and other services.

If you do need help beyond food, it’s easy to find human and social service resources in your neighborhood by calling or visiting 2-1-1, a regional social services hotline. To call, simply dial 2-1-1 or (866) 964-7922; the line is open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and interpreter services are available in more than 140 languages. During this free, confidential call, you’ll be connected with a 2-1-1 Southeastern Pennsylvania information and referral specialist. For assistance in finding social services such as health, basic needs, mental health, and drug and alcohol treatment, review the Department of Human Services Community Resource Guide.

We hope this has been a helpful resource for anyone looking for ways to get help. Feel free to call Chester County Food Bank anytime during our operating hours (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) with questions or for further assistance.

 

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.

Emily Kovach

 

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

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

Though we’ve been around since 2009, 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 food from donations, from what we grow, and purchased using monetary donations and grant monies. Staff and volunteers then work to organize, process, and cook food for our partner agencies and programs. Food and meals are then distributed through our programs and to our hunger relief partners (like food cupboards) who provide food to people in need. 

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 beyond hunger, with advocacy and educational initiatives through our wellness programs, supplemental feeding programs for school-aged children and seniorsemergency response food boxes, and our Farm and Garden Programs.

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.

While we are affiliated with a number of community partners, we are an independent 501(c)3 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 four households 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 160 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.

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.

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

 

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

 

Beyond Hunger: Gearing up for Our Best Season Yet with Fresh2You

As we recently announced, Chester County Food Bank’s new tagline, Beyond Hunger, sets the stage for our continued work of strengthening and nourishing our community. One of our signature programs that captures the essence of how we do this is our Fresh2You Mobile Market, a four-wheeled produce stand that brings fresh food to underserved areas.

Fresh2You is special to us because it really ties together everything that CCFB strives for in an elegant, powerful circle: organic produce that is grown by our farmer and through our raised bed gardens or through sourcing from local farmers is made available for accessible prices to the residents of Chester County; and volunteers, who staff the truck and run our TasteIt! demonstrations, introducing seasonal ingredients and cooking techniques to Fresh2You shoppers and then offering recipe bundles to recreate the dishes at home for just $5. It’s education and action all in one amazing package, and it exemplifies the ways in which we address the root causes of poverty and help people who need assistance beyond just going to a food pantry.

“Fresh2You aims to serve the entire community — we accept SNAP, have our Fruit & Vegetable RX (FVRx) program and are really trying to meet people where they are, both physically and financially,” said Roberta Cosentino, the Fresh2You Mobile Market Manager. “We’re trying to do what we can to get food in people’s hands in a dignified and equitable exchange.”

Our 2018 Fresh2You season was very successful, and 2019 is gearing up to be our best year yet! A second truck will hit the streets (its name is Blanche, and the original truck is Dorothy — “Golden Girls” fans, do you approve?), with an updated look, complete with the updated tagline “Shop, taste, cook with Chester County’s freshest.”

“We’re emphasizing that people can come to the market not only to get all the produce, but also experience by tasting it and by seeing people cooking TasteIt! recipe demos,” said Roberta. “TasteIt! is the most important thing that we do. We have customers who tell us, ‘This is the one day that I don’t have to think about what to make for dinner,’ and that’s people from all backgrounds.”

The second truck will allow for more mobile market opportunities. Because Blanche is smaller and setup is easier, Roberta believes her team will be able to visit some smaller locations. As it stands, the 2019 Fresh2You schedule is looking great: Tuesday, we’ll be at the Phoenixville Senior Center from 10 a.m. to noon and at the Coventry Mall from 3 to 5 p.m.; Wednesday, at the Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and at the Parkesburg Service Center from 3 to 5 p.m.; Thursday at the Kennett Area YMCA from 10 a.m. to noon; Friday at the Oxford Public Library from 10 to noon; Saturday at the Coatesville Public Library from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; and every last Friday of the month at Indian Run in Honey Brook.  

The season is longer this year, too: It kicked off on June 4 and runs all the way through November 23. One of the ways we’re able to do this is that we’re working closely with our farmers to grow all kinds of crops that help extend the seasons, and that respond to things Fresh2You shoppers have been excited about.

“Our farmers are tailoring what they’re growing to our market!” Roberta said. “For instance, we had a lot of success with kohlrabi. We went from not growing it at all to this year our farmer growing two or three different kinds. We learned that it’s something that people of all different backgrounds eat; we weren’t really aware of that.”

Our farmer is also growing more and a greater variety of fresh herbs, which are frequent additions to our TasteIt! recipe bundles. The recipes that we design are meant to be accessible and versatile, even for beginners — think coleslaw, ratatouille and pasta salad. We want people to know that you can make simple food delicious, even just using a hot plate (as we do during the demonstrations)! The only ingredients we assume people have at home are oil, salt and pepper. We offer our own dried herb blends and vinegar at the market, and hopefully this year will be selling olive oil, as well.

Part of our Beyond Hunger philosophy is that our Fresh2You Mobile Market is open to everyone. We are so excited to see you this season at whatever location is most convenient to your home or work! And, if you love to cook, consider volunteering with Fresh2You and TasteIt! We’re always looking for more helpers, and a comprehensive Fresh2You training is coming up in August.

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 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