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About the Food Bank

Get Involved: 4 Ways You Can Help the Food Bank This Fall

Now that the kids are back at school, the Chester County Food Bank—a local nonprofit organization that collects, grows, purchases, processes, stores and distributes food to over 120 food cupboards and meal sites throughout the county—has some immediate needs so that they can help to feed the hungry in our community. While you may be dreaming of pumpkin spice lattes, there are people in our own neighborhoods who don’t know when they will get their next nutritious meal. Here are a few ways you can help:

Weekday Volunteers

Dedicated students helped out all summer in the kitchen and at area farms. Now that these students are back to school, the Food Bank has many available shifts for weekday volunteers. This is a great opportunity if you’ve been looking to join in and help.

Signing up to volunteer is easy via the online volunteer calendar. Once you create a profile, you can register for the workdays of your choosing.

The Food Bank is also accepting group volunteer requests for shifts now until December. This is a great activity for a church, business or moms’ club to give back to the community. Email volunteer@chestercountyfoodbank.org today with three potential dates, as well as your preferred time and location—kitchen or farm. It’s that simple!

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Weekend Backpack Program

Did you know the Chester County Food Bank has a weekend backpack program for food-insecure students? The program helps children get nutritious and easy-to-prepare food so that they don’t go hungry over the weekend. At the discretion of school officials, food is offered not only to students eligible for free or reduced meals, but also to students who fall within the gap of ineligibility for the school meal subsidy programs.

Volunteers are needed to pack resealable bags with a rotating variety of shelf-stable food items that the Food Bank distributes weekly from October through May to 10 school districts in Chester County, including after-school programs and Head Start sites.

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Back to School Food Drive

Heading back to school is a great time for food drives! Whether through a sports team, an on-campus service organization or a theater performance group, there are so many opportunities to get students involved in the issue of food insecurity. It’s a great time for companies to participate in back to school-themed food drives, too. The most needed items currently are pasta, rice, canned tuna and chicken, cereal, oatmeal and canned fruit and vegetables. Visit the Food Bank’s website for more information on how to host a successful food drive.

Donate

Short on time and can’t volunteer? No problem! The Chester County Food Bank accepts monetary donations to support all of its programs. Your financial contribution helps the Food Bank serve our Chester County neighbors who struggle with hunger and food insecurity. Cash donations support innovative programs to address the root causes of hunger through advocacy and education. Monetary donations also allow Chester County Food Bank to purchase bulk food and fresh produce.

Donating is easy. Contact us via email or phone (610-873-6000) or donate directly online.

To find out more about programs, news and how to get involved with Chester County Food Bank, visit the organization’s website and be sure to follow along on Facebook.

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

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

Now in its sixth year of operation, the Chester County Food Bank has always been on a dedicated mission to end hunger in 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. The Food Bank does so much more than collect canned goods, sort fresh produce and raise awareness of the need to help close to 50,000 people. Take a look at the snapshot below.

The Who

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

  • The collection and distribution of fresh food and nonperishable items throughout the county, including “food desert” areas.
  • The education of our communities on the benefits of food access, healthy food preparation and teaching healthy cooking habits.
  • Providing the means to organize and promote successful food drives 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

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

Raised Bed Gardens: a network of over 100 garden sites provides fresh produce to local food cupboards from May through November.

Farming: 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 120 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 Nutrition Education programs, recipes, cooking classes and the Fresh2You Mobile Market.

The Why

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  • 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 at least 1 in 14 people in Chester County is food insecure, meaning that they lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food? Check out the Food Bank’s website or “like” the Food Bank on Facebook for community facts, promotions and donation and volunteer opportunities.
  • 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? Schedule a tour or request a speaker for your next community or corporate meeting.

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

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