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Feeding Families Through Government Programs

At the Chester County Food Bank (CCFB), our mission is to feed as many people as possible. We do this through different channels, like our Fresh2You mobile market, and through partnerships, such as Meals on Wheels. In addition, we also rely on two key government programs to help us fulfill our mission.

Since our opening day in November 2009, the CCFB has received funds through grants from the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP), enabling us to purchase food for the 34 agencies we support with government programs throughout the county. In 2016, we received over $300,000 from the SFPP, for which we were very grateful, especially considering that not every state has an SFPP program.

Recently, we’ve begun to survey those 34 agencies to see which items they are most in need of, and to try to supply them through SFPP funds. The CCFB also delivers all food directly to our agencies, saving them both time and costs. We aim to serve our community as efficiently and conveniently as possible.

We also receive funding through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), a federal program in place to supplement the diets of low-income citizens. The CCFB uses those funds to source local fresh and frozen foods, including produce such as apples, carrots, squash, beans and sweet potatoes, as well as eggs, shelf-stable milks, cheese, canned goods, dry goods and frozen meats and fish.

These resources make a huge different in the lives of the recipients. Throughout the county, our food providers tell us stories about how the individuals and families who receive food from the Food Bank and through their local cupboard has helped them to survive. Phoebe Kitson-Davis, our Director for Agency and Community Partnerships, recalls one recurring example:

“Seniors have shown me their budget for the month, and at the end they have $4 left for stamps, cards and sundries—which are important to seniors. We are able to register them up for TEFAP, SFPP and our Senior Food Box Program at their local cupboard so they have a few extra dollars to send cards to their grandchildren and friends.”

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: Ed Williams (top), Chester County Food Bank

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. 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 last three years, we’ve developed relationships with local farmers, and we meet with them at the beginning of each season while they plan what they’re going to grow. Because of these connections, we can forecast what we’re looking for in terms of variety and quantity of fresh produce, and then buy in bulk from them at discounted prices.

  • Wholesalers: Through our relationship with Philabundance, which began in 2016, we’re able to get great leads on especially good wholesale deals on food. Often, folks from Philabundance will be at a produce market, see something on sale and call us to ask if we’re interested. 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 and Thursday mornings, you can find Operations Director Denise Sheehan 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. Denise notes how much cheaper the prices are at these auctions versus a regular market, recalling a particularly unique situation last summer: “I called every food bank I could remember the number for, because cantaloupes were selling for $2 a bin, and there are probably 150 pieces in each bin!” Denise has also established friendly relationships with some of the farmers at the auctions, and can often negotiate purchasing items from them that aren’t even on the auction block.

To stretch funds even further, Denise and our colleagues 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

Chester County Commissioners Present $25,000 Check to Food Bank

The Chester County Commissioners presented a check for $25,000 to representatives from the Chester County Food Bank this week. The funds are part of the County’s annual appropriations to organizations and non-profits.

The check was presented at Pete’s Produce Farm in Westtown Township, to Larry Welsh, Executive Director, and Norm Horn, Director of Development for the Chester County Food Bank.  The Food Bank grows on approximately four acres of farmland that Pete Flynn, who is also a Food Bank Board member, allocates to the CCFB Agricultural Program. With the help of over a thousand volunteers each season, more than 200,000 pounds of produce is anticipated to be harvested from farm partners Pete’s Produce and Springton Manor Farm.

Chester County government actively supports the work of the Chester County Food Bank, and in particular the farm and garden programs, growing vegetables and fruit at the County’s Springton Manor Farm as well as at the Chester County Youth Center and Chester County Prison.

Nearly $300,000 of state and federal funding channels through Chester County government for the Chester County Food Bank annually, and in addition to the Commissioners’ annual appropriation, county employees donate food and toiletry items to the Food Bank as part of the county’s monthly dress down day program.

The Chester County Food Bank serves approximately 50,000 people a year through their network of more than 120 partner agencies such as food cupboards, meal sites and social service agencies.  Last year, 2.5 million pounds of food were distributed, including over 800,000 pounds of fresh produce.

 

Chester County is the first county in Pennsylvania to initiate a strategic planning process and has a AAA rating on its bonds from Moody’s Investors Service as well as AAA ratings from Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings.  Established by William Penn as one of Pennsylvania’s three original counties, Chester County has been named by Forbes.com as one of America’s best places to raise a family and is ranked the healthiest county in Pennsylvania by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

 

PHOTO IDENTIFICATIONS FROM LEFT:  Commissioner Kathi Cozzone; Larry Welsh, Executive Director of the Chester County Food Bank; Norm Horn, Director of Development at the Chester County Food Bank; Commissioner Michelle Kichline and Commissioner Terence Farrell.

Make a (Bigger!) Difference in October: WSFS Will Match All Donations Up to $5,000

We value all our partners, but this month we’re particularly grateful for WSFS Bank. The community-minded financial institution is celebrating our community-friendly website by matching all donations made in October 2016.

It’s simple: WSFS will match donations up to $5,000. That means it’s never been a better time to give. As we head into colder weather and the holiday season, Chester County’s less fortunate folks need even more help from the Chester County Food Bank.

“The members of the WSFS Bank Pennsylvania Advisory Board are happy to provide their annual donation for this matching challenge grant to the Chester County Food Bank,” said Vernita Dorsey, WSFS senior vice president and director of community strategy. “The opportunity to maximize the impact of our $5000 gift is one that we simply could not pass up. We believe our caring community partners will embrace the challenge and double this gift.”

The Chester County Food Bank runs on contributions, and we’re proud to say 89 percent of all donations go directly to costs that provide access to healthy food for those struggling with food insecurity.

cc-food-bank-volunteers

We rely on generosity from individuals, organizations and corporations so we can continue to:

  • Offer our innovative programs
  • Address the root causes of hunger
  • Provide advocacy and education
  • Maintain equipment and trucks
  • Purchase food in bulk
  • And so much more!

“This new partnership between WSFS and the Food Bank strengthens our community and furthers the awareness of hunger and food insecurity in Chester County. The match that WSFS is offering is a ‘carrot’ to the community inviting them to donate dollars to make an even bigger impact to fight hunger,” said Larry Welsch, executive director.

We can’t say it enough: We’re grateful to WSFS for standing with us to fight hunger in Chester County! Join in with a donationAny amount makes a difference.

Want to be in the know about what we’re doing in your community? Sign up for our newsletter and stay connected. Thanks to you, we’re growing a healthier community.

The Chester County Food Bank collects, stores and distributes food to over 120 food cupboards, meal sites and social service organizations. Since our beginning in 2009, we have increased distribution over 119% by distributing 2.5 million pounds of food. The Food Bank partners with donors, volunteers, farmers, schools and businesses to address hunger and food insecurity with compassion and creativity.

Nina Malone

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.

WEGMANS RECLAM TRUCK 2016 (12)

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.

WEGMANS RECLAM TRUCK 2016 (59)

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.