Fresh2You

Meet the Community Partner: La Comunidad Hispana

Here at the Chester County Food Bank, our mission is to end food insecurity in the communities in our county. It’s an ambitious goal — the problem of hunger is a complex one, touching on economics, access to food, nutrition and cooking education, advocacy, legislative policy and so much more. While our organization is going nine years strong and has accomplished so much during that time, we definitely can’t tackle these issues alone. It’s thanks to our strong bonds and relationships with community partners that we’re able to continue reaching our neighbors in need in effective, sustainable ways.

One such community partner is La Comunidad Hispana (LCH), a diverse, bilingual Federally Qualified Health Center in southern Chester County. Its mission is to “change lives by serving southern Chester County as the leading provider of integrated health and community services.” Founded in 1973 by Peggy Harris and Margarita Quiñones with the support of Kennett Square residents, clergy and advocates, LCH set forth to serve the needs of the primarily Latino population who came to the region to find jobs in the mushroom industry. LCH was established as a place where vulnerable adults and families could go for health and medical issues large and small.

Now, more than 40 years later, the committed, passionate team at LCH continues this mission at various sites: its Health and Community Services office and Dental Center in Kennett Square, its Community Health Center in Oxford and its brand-new Women’s Health Center in West Grove. The Women’s Health Center is an exciting new development for LCH; all of its women’s health services will be provided out of this office, and with an additional provider added to the staff, the organization will be able to serve more women than ever.

CCFB’s relationship with LCH began about five years ago, when we started our EatFresh program. During that time, we sought organizations to partner with, specifically health clinics in the county.

“LCH was one of those, and the idea was that they were connecting with food-insecure families whom we believed we could teach some basic healthy cooking options to and also be able to give them some fresh produce at the end of each class,” said Wendy Gaynor, director of Food Security Initiatives at Chester County Food Bank. “It turns out that the people [served by LCH] have a wealth of knowledge surrounding cooking, so what we’re now doing is building community. They’re coming for the produce, for the connection and to have an experience together. They get to come together with other people and enjoy good food.”

We’re still working with LCH on EatFresh, and are pleased to announce that we’re extending our partnership with them to offer the Fruit & Vegetable Prescription (FVRx) program to some of the families there. Families are identified through the clinic and are given “prescriptions,” which are like vouchers that can be redeemed for fresh produce at CCFB’s Fresh2You Truck.

These components of our partnership exemplify just what makes LCH so special. It’s not simply there to administer medical treatment and services — aims to serve the holistic health of the families and individuals it serves. One example of this is LCH’s Family Fitness Program. It piloted this program two years ago, with the support of the Edna G. Kynett Memorial Foundation, and has been such a success, LCH decided to continue it.

“The goal of the program is to provide intensive health interventions for families with children at risk of chronic disease (such as heart disease and diabetes), based on overweight/obese status,” explained LeeAnn Riloff, director of Development at LCH. “We enroll the entire family into the program and over the course of a year, offer them regular clinical check-ins, health education, consultation with a nutritionist, free healthy food bags and fitness equipment and deeply discounted family YMCA memberships.” The families also receive access to LCH’s special programs, including walking/running groups and the FVRx partnership with CCFB. LCH also hosts three raised beds that are part of our Raised Bed Garden Program — these help to supplement the fresh produce CCFB brings to on-site EatFresh classes.

“These food bank programs are critical elements of the program for us,” said LeeAnn. “Our nutritionist can give families advice to eat lots of fruits and vegetables instead of loads of empty carbs, but unless they can access the produce and know how to use it, it isn’t all that useful!”

La Comunidad Hispana is just one of the many community partners we work with, and is such an important resource for the communities of southern Chester County. To learn more about its mission, visit its website and Facebook page.

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

Featured photo: La Comunidad Hispana; all other photos, top to bottom: La Comunidad Hispana, Chester County Food Bank (next two photos), La Comunidad Hispana

A Fresh Take on Our Fresh2You Program for 2018

Summer is nearly here, which means it’s time for one of our favorite annual initiatives: the Fresh2You Mobile Market! With generous support from QVC and the Chester County Health Department, this will be our fourth season of bringing affordably priced fresh fruits and veggies to underserved areas via our mobile market on wheels. The official start to the Fresh2You season is Tuesday, June 12.

This year brings some exciting new developments to Fresh2You! For starters, we’re expanding the Fruit & Vegetable RX (FVRx) program in the hopes of helping even more of our neighbors incorporate more fresh produce into their diets. Essentially, FVRx participants are provided with a real “prescription” for Veggie Bucks from their medical provider. Veggie Bucks are vouchers that can then be used to purchase fruits and vegetables each week at the Fresh2You Mobile Market.

“Last year, we piloted it with The Clinic, and it was extremely successful, so we’re expanding it to be at two additional sites,” said Roberta Cosentino, the Fresh2You Mobile Market manager. “One is the Coatesville VA and one is La Comunidad Hispana in Kennett Square. Folks can come to any of our markets and redeem those prescriptions for produce!”

Another update for 2018 is that we are no longer attending two of our sites from last year — Modena and Honey Brook — though we hope to be back in future years. A new location for us will be at the Coventry Mall in North Coventry. “This was somewhere we noticed a lot of people were coming from to our Phoenixville market, and we have a lot of community support out there,” said Roberta.

As always, we want to remind our supporters and clients that the Fresh2You Mobile Market is open to everyone. Whether you scour for the best bargains at the grocery store or shop for heirloom produce at your local farmers market, you are welcome at Fresh2You.

“We’ve learned very clearly that regardless of income level, people want to support local agriculture, want to know where their food is coming from and that there’s no shortage of demand for local produce,” Roberta noted. “We’ve learned that lesson over and over, and we’re trying to increase access in a way that’s dignified and equitable. Part of that equity is making the same foods available to everybody. When you see our logo, come on over and check us out!”

Anyone shopping at the market helps to support the program itself. Fresh2You accepts cash, credit/debit cards, SNAP/EBT and WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers (FMNP). We match FMNP vouchers with Veggie Bucks, which we encourage people to come back and use the next time they shop.

No matter who you are, we’re betting that you love getting local produce, grains, spices and honey at a great price. Because of our relationships with farmers and remarkable buying power (we’re almost at the wholesale buying level of a grocery store!), we’re able to purchase food at extremely low wholesale prices. Because we’re a nonprofit and don’t mark the food up, we’re able to pass the savings on to our shoppers. Here are just a few examples of our prices:

  • Local eggs: $2.50/dozen.
  • Fresh bunches of kale: $2 each.
  • Tomatoes: $2/pound.

This year, we’re also bringing back our wildly popular recipe bundles. Each week, trained volunteers run a recipe demonstration that features a seasonal veggie. The volunteers cook the recipe on-site and give out samples. The recipes are generally very simple and healthful; alongside the samples, we hand out the recipe printed on a card and sell all of the ingredients in that dish for just $5. Our group of over 20 volunteers just completed their training and are ready to hit the markets with easy weeknight recipes to share!

“The recipe bundles were a huge success last year and we can’t wait to see how well it goes this year,” Roberta remarked. “We loved seeing this become part of people’s’ weekly routines!”

All of this awaits at the 2018 Fresh2You Mobile Market season. Check out our schedule to find the closest location to you — the truck is out and about five days a week, so come on out to enjoy the bounty of the season!

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

Meet the Community Partner: The Clinic

Situated in a big, beautiful Victorian-style house in Phoenixville, in the former rectory of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, is The Clinic. Founded in 2001, this community-based health care center has provided comprehensive medical care to patients regardless of their ability to pay. The Clinic was founded by Dr. Lorna B. Stuart and the Rev. Marie Z. Swayze with funds from a generous anonymous donor, as well as more than $300,000 raised through contributions from the larger community.

The Clinic opened in 2002, and since then has been passionately pursuing its mission of serving a population who fall through the cracks of human and social services, including those who don’t qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. Many of its patients’ incomes are within 150 percent to 200 percent of federal poverty level guidelines. By the end of 2013, just over 10 years since The Clinic was founded, the largely volunteer staff of doctors and nurses has provided medical care to the community equaling more than 100,000 patient visits.

In addition to routine health care services and screenings, The Clinic offers laboratory services, pharmacy services, specialty care and an abundance of resources such as healthy lifestyle classes and the Girls In Medicine program.

We are proud to call The Clinic a partner in one of Chester County Food Bank’s newest projects, the Fresh2You Fruit & Vegetable Prescription (FVRx) Program. Thanks to the work of volunteers and staff like Dr. Ana Negrón and Cindy Clark, The Clinic’s pharmacy assistance program coordinator, we were able to debut this pilot program this summer for some of the patients at The Clinic who are most threatened by food insecurity. Essentially, this program allows medical staff at The Clinic to prescribe Veggie Bucks to patients that can then be used to purchase fruits and vegetables at the Fresh2You Mobile Market, which parks outside of The Clinic on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The prescription is renewed each week the participant shops at the market.

The FVRx Program began with a simple observation by Dr. Negrón, one of The Clinic’s regular volunteer providers. Seeing how difficult it was for some of her patients to access nutritious food, including fresh fruits and veggies, on a regular basis, she began to develop a “Healthy Prescription” program. She mentioned the program in a discussion with Roberta Cosentino, the Fresh2You Mobile market manager, back in January, and the idea evolved from there. Working as a partnership, we fleshed out the full concept of FVRx, and with the input and help of the staff at The Clinic, were able to implement the program this summer.

When asked how The Clinic’s patients have been responding so far, Cindy reports that it’s been overwhelmingly positive. “The Clinic enrolled more than 60 patients and their family members during May and June,” she said. “It appears that many are participating based on the activity at the Fresh2You Mobile Market. People can be seen leaving the market with bags overflowing with fresh fruits and vegetables.” Sounds like the start of a successful healthy eating initiative to us!

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

First two photos: Chester County Food Bank; other photos, top to bottom: Jonathan Winberg, Mark Psoras

A Healthy Dose: Introducing the Fresh2You Fruit & Vegetable Prescription (FVRx) Program

They say laughter is the best medicine, but at the Chester County Food Bank, we believe nutritious food is a close contender. Fresh produce does a world of good for bodies young and old, but not everyone has access to fruits and vegetables. Our Fresh2You Mobile Market, which opened for the season on June 13, seeks to address that issue by bringing a produce-market-on-wheels to various locations throughout Chester County. We’ve seen a lot of success from this program (which is generously supported by QVC) and have gotten lots of positive feedback from residents in various neighborhoods who otherwise find it difficult to locate and purchase affordable fresh produce.

This year, we’re taking this idea a step further with our pilot Fresh2You Fruit & Vegetable Prescription (FVRx) program. This innovative initiative is in partnership with The Clinic in Phoenixville, a nonprofit health care facility whose mission is to “provide quality health care to the uninsured in an atmosphere which fosters dignity and respect for our patients.” FVRx is partially funded through a grant provided by the Chester County Health Department, and also in part by the Chester County Food Bank.

The goal of the FVRx Program is to address the adverse effects that food insecurity has on health. The program will do this by offering doctors and their patients the opportunity to discuss nutrition, and give patients the tools necessary to establish great dietary habits and practices. We are aiming to increase access to and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables for patients of The Clinic, and to improve the overall well-being and food security of program participants.

At present, The Clinic has enrolled about 75 patients into the program; each participant is given a real “prescription” for Veggie Bucks, which are vouchers that can then be used to purchase fruits and vegetables at the Fresh2You Mobile Market, which parks outside of The Clinic on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The prescription is renewed each week the participant shops at the market.

Because we know that knowledge is power, and that not everyone knows what to do with a head of cauliflower or a bunch of mustard greens, the Fresh2You staff, including a number of volunteers, holds interactive recipe demonstrations at each market location including The Clinic. Every week, a new recipe is featured to highlight a seasonal vegetable. Volunteers cook and offer samples of the recipe at the market, and customers (including all FVRx participant shoppers) are welcome to take the recipe home. At the market, we sell the ingredients in a handy “Recipe Bundle” for just $5.

If you’re a patient at The Clinic, be sure to ask your care provider about enrolling in the FVRx program. To find out where the Fresh2You Mobile Market will be this summer, take a look at our weekly schedule. We hope to keep the residents of Chester County eating great seasonal produce all summer long!

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: Chester County Food Bank

It’s Back! Fresh2You Mobile Market Hits the Road June 13

What has four wheels, is staffed by friendly faces, is loaded up with delicious things to eat and makes the rounds through Chester County communities all summer (and, into fall)? If you thought an ice cream truck, think again—it’s the Chester County Food Bank’s Fresh2You Mobile Market! This cheerfully painted produce market on wheels, generously sponsored by QVC, hits the road June 13 and rolls throughout the county through November. Tuesday, June 13 is opening market day at the Chester County Family Academy (next to the West Chester Senior Center), and the first Saturday market at the Coatesville Library on June 17 will surely be an exciting and busy day as well!

The coolest thing about the Fresh2You Mobile Market is that it can stop at places where fresh fruits, veggies and healthy locally made staples can be hard to find. The mission of the mobile market is to connect lower-income communities to the fresh produce grown in our region, and to make high-quality food affordable to the whole community while paying farmers fairly for their labor and products.

During the first few weeks of the truck’s schedule, our shelves will be brimming with beautiful seasonal produce, such as a variety of greens like kale and lettuce, slender spring onions, crunchy carrots and sweet tart berries. This year, we’re also offering tasty and nutritious pantry staples: Swarmbustin’ Honey from West Grove, organic and local eggs, a wide variety of dried beans and grains, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and Fresh2You’s special herb blends.

Our 2017 schedule is packed five days each week (Tuesday – Saturday) with stops at various locations including churches, libraries and YMCAs. In addition to setting up shop on a regular basis, our staff and volunteers will frequently hold Taste It! demonstrations to introduce shoppers to ingredients and share creative recipes.

Here’s the full schedule:

Everyone is welcome to shop at Fresh2You Mobile Market, and we accept all forms of payment: cash, credit and debit cards, SNAP/EBT (food stamps), and WIC and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) vouchers. This year, we’re offering a wonderful program that provides a dollar-for-dollar match on all fruit and vegetable purchases made with SNAP and FMNP vouchers. Most matching dollar programs throughout the country only match SNAP purchases, but this year we are also able to match FMNP purchases. We are excited to offer our WIC and Senior FMNP shoppers this additional benefit.

To keep up with the Fresh2You Mobile Market, follow the truck’s team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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 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

Growing Hope and Nourishing Souls: Chester County Food Bank’s Fresh2You

Fresh, nutritious food is one of the cornerstones of a healthy, vibrant community. For thousands of years, local agriculture has sustained civilizations and fostered the growth of society as we know it.

But to every coin there is a flip side, and even today there are local areas where access to high-quality, fresh, nutritious foods is severely limited. Enter the Chester County Food Bank.

June 20 marks the exciting start of the 2016 season for Chester County Food Bank’s Fresh2You Mobile Market. This heartwarming program is a concerted effort to bring high-quality foods and nutrition education directly to Chester County communities in need.

Pastured eggs, fresh produce and healthful dried grains and legumes will be offered at every market site on a regular schedule every week. A custom-built truck with a wrap design by Miller Designworks and outfitted by E. L. Carpenter will allow the Food Bank to transport fresh foods directly to 10 sites in the area and set up remote marketplaces to serve the community.

Chester-County-Food-Bank-Fresh2You

The benefits of the Fresh2You program extend beyond the core function of bringing vital foods to recipients in need. In addition to helping area residents access crucial provisions, nutrition education will be offered at every market site to empower recipients in making healthful dietary choices.

The market is open to everyone and accepts cash, credit cards, debit cards, EBT, WIC and Senior Farmers’ Market Vouchers, making the Fresh2You market truly accessible to every community member. Moreover, individuals who shop with their EBT card at the Fresh2You market will receive double their SNAP dollars, creating a crucial increase in food-buying power for families.

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The old saying “it takes a village” is certainly true for many endeavors. The roots for the Chester County Food Bank began in 1996 with Elmer Duckinfield and (then Commissioner, now Senator) Andy Dinniman. The two began a program based on the historical concept of food gleaning in order to support hungry individuals in the community.

From that beginning the program has grown to become Chester County Food Bank, which now distributes over 2.5 million pounds of food every year. Now 20 years later, Senator Dinniman and Elmer are able to witness the fruits of their early labors, with the ribbon-cutting and kickoff of the Fresh2You mobile market program.

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Crucial to this year’s launch of Fresh2You is a key sponsorship from QVC. We spoke with Suzanne Quigley (Director of Community Affairs) from QVC to learn more about this exciting partnership.

“The Fresh2You Program is really the extension of a long-term relationship we’ve had with Chester County Food Bank,” Suzanne explains. “They’re a great collaborator with us. Since 2009 we’ve been involved with them through various initiatives including corporate donations. Our employees really like to volunteer at the Food Bank and we’ve also helped organize events.”

“In 2013 QVC formally partnered with the Food Bank and Triskeles with the Food For All program, and we’re very proud of that initiative. It’s a community garden on site at both of our buildings. Our employees volunteer their time to harvest 100% organic produce … and transport it to the Food Bank. In the past three years we’ve harvested just under 8,000 pounds of produce.”

QVC-Garden

In order to have the most beneficial impact on the community at large, one of the unique qualities of the Food Bank’s programs is that engaging nutrition education is paired with crucial provisions. The proverb of teaching a man to fish is steeped in wisdom, and the Food Bank draws on this age-old concept to address the issue of hunger from all angles.

The Food Bank supports Chester County with a roster of programs, including nutrition education, local farming and the Backpack Program, which serves 2,000 school students per month with healthy nonperishable foods.

Local farms like Pete’s Produce host the Food Bank’s farming initiatives, in which a bounty of crops are grown and harvested to support fresh food distribution efforts. These crops are a large part of what arrives at area food cupboards and shelters, as well as the Fresh2You mobile market, through the hard work of the Chester County Food Bank and their dedicated volunteers.

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“The Fresh2You program is an innovative solution, and QVC is all about innovation,” Suzanne added. “We want to help support nonprofits that are thinking outside the box. The food category for QVC is a big one … it just seemed to make sense for so many reasons, not to mention that this is such a huge issue for Chester County. 1 in every 14 families go hungry every day in Chester County, and we are one of the wealthiest counties in the United States. If you think about how many kids that impacts, it’s just staggering.”

Dreams do come true—with hard work, cooperation and a network of support. Through initiatives like Fresh2You, the Chester County Food Bank and all of its supporters are growing hope and nourishing communities one day at a time.

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.

QVC garden photo: QVC
Remaining photos: Nathan Greenwood