food drives

Coordinating a Local Food Drive: The Power of One and the Power of Many

The communities of bucolic Chester County are well known for stepping up to the plate when needed—and we need your assistance now more than ever. Many of our neighbors struggle with basic needs all year long, and as the weather begins to turn colder and the holidays approach, we once again need you to rally around to make life easier and to provide for those who might be in less fortunate situations.

At the Chester County Food Bank, we often hear that people think they don’t have the resources or the power to pull off a food drive of any caliber. Perhaps they believe it will require too much of their time. Or, they don’t know exactly which food items to include. Or that they can’t possibly put a dent in the amount of food required.

We invite you to take a look at the following two valuable examples of people working in conjunction with the Chester County Food Bank to coordinate and execute powerful food drives. These are your neighbors, businesses and friends taking the time to make a measurable impact with little effort.

The Power of One

Nate Hyson realized at the young age of 6 that there were others less fortunate than he. He began by building a donation box, placing it in his neighborhood. He soon collected $30. He explains, “I made a collection box out of Magformers (a construction toy) and decided that the money I collected would go to feed babies. We brought the baby food purchased to a women’s shelter and then I decided I wanted to go bigger.”

Now, at 12 years old, he is the founder of the Baby Food Fund of Chester County. Infants are the focus because “they can’t help themselves,” Nate says with determination.

Nate and his mom, Sarah, provide everything required to collect items for infants in West Bradford Elementary School. “It only takes me a total of five or six hours to coordinate with the principal to pick a date, send out flyers through the school, bring collection bins to the school, and then stop by periodically throughout the drive to pick up food,” says Sarah.

Since its inception, Baby Food Fund has donated more than 250 pounds of baby food. The results are rewarding, notes Nate. When asked what inspires him to run the food drive and what personal rewards he gets from doing this, Nate states simply, “It’s an easy way to help other people, and there are people who really need the food. It makes me feel nice to deliver baby food to Chester County Food Bank, knowing that I’m helping babies get a good start in life.” Way to go, Nate!

The Power of Many

The Diwali Food Drive was initiated in 2012 by the residents of the Byers Station community in Chester Springs. Inspired by the five-day good-over-evil spirit of Diwali—the Festival of Light, this food drive is one of the largest community-hosted drives, with over 150,000 pounds of food donated to date.

As part of the Diwali festival, participants serve and feed the poor and needy. As noted on the Diwali Facebook page, “It’s important that our communities inculcate this very humane trait into our next generations during the festival season and channel our energies and resources for the benefit of people who need the most in the form of food to create a sense of shared development by encouraging our children to organize and participate in food drives throughout the United States of America.”

Through tradition, word-of-mouth and community Facebook pages, these dedicated neighbors continue to rally by going door to door, providing centralized food drop-off and pick-up locations and partnering with local businesses to generate this massive effort.

 

The Diwali Food Drive has grown to 10 communities throughout Chester County including: Byers Station, Malvern Hunt, the Reserve at Eagle Hunt, Windsor Ridge, Bell Tavern, Applecross, the Reserve at Waynebrook, the Reserve at Eagle Village, Whiteland Woods, the Reserve at Chestnut Ridge. The 2017 drive generated a record 54,000 pounds of cereal, juice, and canned goods.

 

 

Get involved now. Be the change you want to see. Donate timefood or cash or call us at (610) 873-6000 and learn how you can make a difference in Chester County.

Sign up for our in-depth newsletter and be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for up-to-the-minute information.

The Chester County Food Bank is nonprofit and the central hunger relief organization serving more than 120 partner agencies in Chester County, Pa. Through our network of food cupboardshot meal sites, shelters and other social service organizations, we distribute 2.9 million pounds to our neighbors with limited or uncertain access to adequate food. We also take a steadfast approach to provide food and build support in the neediest communities, while raising awareness and engagement among our community. Visit our Nutrition Education page to learn about how our programs are making inroads in the fight against hunger. We are located at 650 Pennsylvania Dr., Exton, Pa. 19341.

Ed Williams

Photos of Nate by Sarah Hyson; remaining photos by Ed Williams and Chester County Food Bank

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

PB&J Drive: Help Stock Shelves with This Pantry Favorite

When we think of kids in summertime, many of us conjure images of children splashing in pools, playing sports at camps, having sleepovers with friends or racing against the sun’s heat to enjoy an ice cream cone before it melts.

But for many children, in our neighborhoods and beyond, these idyllic scenes are far from reality. In fact, for more than 18,000 students in Chester County, school’s being out of session means that the only meal they can be certain of—school lunch—is no longer a constant they can count on. Also, many kids who aren’t old enough to cook something safely for themselves are left home alone. Peanut butter and jelly isn’t just for kids, but families and seniors also rely on this pantry staple.

That’s why the Chester County Food Bank is partnering with the United Way of Chester County to help fill the shelves of neighbors in need with a crowd-pleasing food: peanut butter and jelly! This classic sandwich is a good source of protein, and is also easy for school-age kids to make for themselves without risk of cuts or burns.

We’ll be gathering the supplies we need to keep our agencies stocked all summer long at our Fourth Annual Peanut Butter & Jelly Drive and Community Weigh-In.

Here’s how it works:

  1. To participate in the PB&J Drive, first assemble a team. This can be neighbors, co-workers, school groups, family—anyone!
  2. Begin collecting donations of any brand or type of peanut butter, almond or alternative nut butter, jelly or jam. We ask that items have NO high fructose corn syrup and no trans fats. To avoid breakage, we ask for plastic jars instead of glass. Also, no expired or homemade items or pre-made sandwiches, please.
  3. Weigh in! On Friday, June 1, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., bring all of your donations to the Chester County Food Bank in Exton for the Community Weigh-In event!

This festive event is a great time to deliver your PB&J collection, connect with the community and tour the Food Bank! And since you’ll definitely have PB&J on the brain, enjoy lunch from our PB&J Café, which will feature the classic sandwich, as well as modern flavor updates (think sriracha hot sauce and bacon!).

Fun fact: The team to beat is the Matt Gorham Real Estate team, which is the three-year Peanut Butter Cup Champion. In 2015, the team donated 694 pounds and with now three years under their belt the team has donated nearly FOUR TON to the drive!

However, Shire Pharmaceuticals gave the Matt Gorham Group a run for the peanut butter last year with only a 72 pound difference. Can your team measure up?

We’ve had such an amazing response to this event. Last year’s event brought in over 27,000 POUNDS of peanut butter and jelly. We are better together.  Will you join us?

For more info on the PB&J drive, visit the event page or email food@chestercountyfoodbank.org. If you’re unable to participate directly in the drive, please consider making a financial donation. Because CCFB can buy the food our clients need in bulk, we can stretch your dollars further to purchase even more of this important pantry staple with your generous donation.

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. Reach us at 610-873-6000. 

Emily Kovach

 

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

Meet Our Community Partner: Diwali Food Drive

When it comes to charitable giving and volunteering, the fall and winter holidays are when we often see a big surge from the community. Thanksgiving and Christmas may come to mind, but for the Byers Station community in Chester County, the holiday of Diwali—the Festival of Light—is the catalyst for a coordinated group effort to give back. Diwali (sometimes spelled “Deepavali”) is a five-day Hindu celebration that takes place each autumn in the Northern Hemisphere to signify the victory of light over dark and good over evil.

Since 2012, friends and neighbors in Byers Station and beyond have banded together to create the Diwali Food Drive, which captures the spirit of giving to those in need, a fundamental part of of the Diwali holiday. By creating individual goals on the Diwali Food Drive website, communities and neighborhoods demonstrate through their actions how much strength there is in numbers. By combining their smaller goals, all of the communities together can accomplish the main goal: This year’s goal was 60,000 pounds of food!

Chester County Food Bank is honored to be one of the recipients of this amazing community effort. This year’s drive, which wrapped up on October 21, brought in 25,532 pounds of food donations. A portion of these donations will also be sent to victims of Hurricane Harvey.

We’ve been one of the Diwali Food Drive’s distribution partners since its inception, and we’ve watched the initiative grow and evolve. Using word-of-mouth and harnessing the power of social media, the collective has expanded well beyond Byers Station to include 12 other communities throughout Chester County. The drive has become an annual tradition; families include their children, neighbors recruit one another—politicians are even getting involved! This year, Pennsylvania Rep. Duane Miller was present at various Chester County Diwali Food Drive events and was a vocal supporter of the mission.

The Diwali Food Drive’s impact cannot be understated. In the 5 years since it began, this group has brought 116,521 pounds of food directly to the Chester County Food Bank! Thanks to this donation, we are able to continue our mission of addressing hunger across the county, and sustain our many programs and initiatives that provide food for our neighbors in need.

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

First two photos: Pixabay; remaining photos: Balaji Studios

What Is Food Insecurity?

A fully stocked fridge after a trip to the grocery store; a farmer’s market bag stuffed with leafy greens and plump tomatoes; a fruit bowl, spilling over with sweet, ripening fruit: the sensation of abundance is a basic human pleasure. But for so many of our neighbors—more than 50,000 in fact, including 18,000-plus children—this is a feeling they rarely enjoy.

Instead of food wealth, their experience is food insecurity. At Chester County Food Bank, we broadly define food insecurity as “a household that is without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable and nutritious food at any given time.” Though Chester County is the wealthiest county in Pennsylvania, this remains a serious issue for many of our residents.

Food insecurity lies at the heart of CCFB’s mission to mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthy food. There are numerous reasons why a family may experience food insecurity, either for a few tight months or for years at a time. This situation may be related to unexpected unemployment, a sudden health crisis or disability, or simply a struggle to make ends meet. As of the 2015 American Community Survey, Chester County has 7.1 percent of the population living below the federal poverty level, or approximately 35,000 people. Each family’s complex scenario is the driving force behind our diverse programs.

From Meals on Wheels meal preparation and distribution for seniors on fixed incomes, to our Summer Food Boxes that help bridge the gap for children who rely on free or reduced-price school meals to our Fresh2You Mobile Market, which brings affordable produce to areas where fresh food is scarce, each one of our programs is aimed at solving food insecurity in Chester County.

With the help of our amazing volunteers, committed Community Partners, supportive staff and generous donors, every day brings us one step closer to ensuring that no one in our communities lives with the uneasiness or fear of not knowing where their next meal is coming from.

Want to learn more? Sign 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 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

Photos: Ed Williams

Hunters: Share the Harvest with Your Food Bank

Did you know there’s a program that helps make sure interested hunters may share their bounty with those less fortunate? The Chester County Food Bank was grateful to receive 5,150 pounds of venison in 2015, thanks to Hunters Sharing the Harvest (HSH) and generous local hunters.

HSH is a charitable program that connects hunters with butchers across Pennsylvania who are dedicated to getting venison, a healthful lean protein, to local food banks. This initiative, combined with local hunters’ fundraising and advocacy efforts, puts food on the tables of Pennsylvania’s less fortunate.

Art Lyle of Backyard Bucks has been a longtime supporter of the effort and our Food Bank. He says the group’s members are delighted they can help by simply doing something they love: hunting. For him, however, it goes deeper.

Piece of frozen meat onions and garlic. A table from old boards rural style

“The main reason I got involved was that I grew up in a family of six, and we didn’t always have food—or not much of it,” Art explained. “There were some times we would eat bread or rice, and other times we went to food banks. I always said if I could ever find a way to give back, I would. That extends to Backyard Bucks: We just believe it’s the right thing.”

Art offered these tips for other hunters’ groups that might be interested in helping the Chester County Food Bank:

  • Ask all attending your fundraising event to bring three nonperishable food items. Those who do can get raffle tickets for a chance to win a crossbow, muzzleloader or other prize. This is a great way to collect a lot of nonperishables for the food bank.
  • Encourage each hunter to make a difference by harvesting at least one extra deer and donating it.
  • Help identify property owners willing to open their land to hunters. In particular, properties where nonprofits like Backyard Bucks can hunt free of charge are greatly needed.

Hunters and hunters’ clubs looking to get involved may reach out to the following HSH participating butchers:

  • Countryside Butchering, 269 Long Ln., Honey Brook, PA 19344; 610-273-2629
  • Fisher’s Butcher Shop, 48 Furnace Rd., Quarryville, PA 17566; 717-786-7398
  • Foresta’s Market, 1098 W. Bridge St., Phoenixville, PA 19460; 610-935-1777
  • Noble Road Butcher Shop, 1553 Noble Rd., Kirkwood, PA 17536; 717-529-9031
  • Smokers Custom Butchering, 12 Old Leacock Rd., Ronks, PA 17572; 717-768-7046

Of course, the Chester County Food Bank is also grateful for gifts of nonperishables, grocery store gift cards and financial donations, too. We greatly appreciate our hunter friends who embrace the Hunters Sharing the Harvest program—as do our food cupboards and their clients.

Volunteers Collecting Food Donations In Warehouse

Want to learn more? 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

Photos: BigStock

Our Challenge: How You Can Become a Holiday Hero

The holiday season seems to be thrust upon us more quickly every year. The hustle and bustle harbor the anticipation of family, friends and delicious holiday feasts with toasts of good cheer, warm laughter and cherished memories.

The challenge.

It’s difficult for us to imagine what it feels like to not be able to have these amazing banquets, to not be able to provide the resources or the money to plan a basic nourishing holiday meal for our family—meals that we many times take for granted.

Our challenge for you is this: Don’t eat anything for eight hours. No protein bars. Skip the fruit and nuts. Omit that nutritious shake. Go ahead and try it. Observe how empty your stomach feels, how light your head seems and how difficult it is to maintain even a bit of focus toward the end of the day.

For many of our own Chester County neighbors—multiply those eight hours into days, weeks or perhaps months.

Think of it this way. Eight hours is also the average amount of time required to take part in creating a successful food drive with the Chester County Food Bank. It may not sound like a huge investment from you, but the positive impact is exponential for us—and for our communities. We need you to be our hero.

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Get involved. It’s easy.

You want to be involved but where do you begin? How do you plan a food drive during the busy holiday season? What resources do you need?

Whether you wish to conduct a smaller solo effort or to coordinate a more massive drive to include friends, family and coworkers, we have it all spelled out simply on our easy-to-navigate website. Take a look at our online tool kit that includes the information you’ll need.

To make the process go even more smoothly—simply register your food drive with us via our convenient email.

Specific holiday items are always beneficial this time of year and include frozen turkeys, canned vegetables, fruit, cranberry sauce and gravies, as well as packaged instant potatoes and boxed stuffing. Focus on collecting one item by itself if it makes it easier. We’ll accept it all. In fact, we will also accept the receipts for free turkeys that some neighborhood grocery stores provide to frequent shoppers in addition to actual frozen turkeys.  We’ve even added Saturday drop off hours – we will be open Saturdays in November (9a-noon) leading up to Thanksgiving accepting food donations.

Still not sure what additional things to collect? Check out our year-round food and breakfast needed items. We encourage you to participate in this year’s Chester County Housing & Food for All 365 National Hunger Homelessness Awareness Week events (November 12-19).

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Be a hero. Donate.

We certainly realize how valuable your personal time is and we do understand if you cannot commit to organizing a food drive at this time, but we continue to need your involvement. You still have the opportunity to be a community hero by simply donating.

Our dedicated team of staff members and volunteers is willing to assist you to become a true holiday hero for our own neighbors. Call us at (610) 873-6000 with any questions you may have and thank you for your sincere support.

Sign up for our in-depth newsletter and be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for up-to-the-minute information.

The Chester County Food Bank is  the central hunger relief organization serving more than 120 partner agencies in Chester County, Pa. Through our network of food cupboardshot meal sites, shelters and other social service organizations, we distribute over 2.5 million pounds to our neighbors with limited or uncertain access to adequate food. We also take a steadfast approach to provide food and build support in the neediest communities, while raising awareness and engagement among our community. Visit our Nutrition Education page to learn about how our programs are making inroads in the fight against hunger. We are located at 650 Pennsylvania Dr., Exton, Pa. 19341.

Ed Williams

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.

Nick-CCFA-backpacks
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 Norman Horn via email or phone (610-873-6000, extension 104) 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.

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