At the Chester County Food Bank, we’re working year-round to end hunger and food insecurity in our communities. No matter the season, we’re mobilizing our staff and volunteers to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors in need, from Simple Suppers to nutrition education.
That said, September is a preview to the giving season, as it’s Hunger Action Month, a wide-reaching initiative from Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. For us, food insecurity is a priority day in and day out; still, September gives us a chance to address issues of hunger in a more high-profile way.
There are plenty of ways to get involved in Hunger Action Month this year, but here are six that can help you to make the most of it:
1. Get Involved with Hunger Is
Hunger Is is a charitable program run by the Albertson Companies Foundation and local ACME Markets, with a very broad and ambitious goal: to eradicate hunger in America. The specific focus is creating and expanding breakfast programs for children. We’re excited to be chosen as a charity partner for this year’s Hunger Is campaign.
How can you help? During September, when you visit one of the seven local ACME markets in Chester County (see the full list below), you’ll see signs about the Hunger Is fundraiser and get an option to donate at checkout. Here’s a not-so-well-kept secret: Every dollar donated at checkout will go directly to CCFB! We’ll use the funds to support our hunger relief efforts that support children starting their day with a healthy breakfast.
Please stop by your neighborhood ACME in Chester County and make a donation to the Hunger Is campaign from September 1 through September 30.
Chester County ACME stores:
Eagle: 400 Simpson Dr., Chester Springs
Phoenixville: 785 Starr St., Phoenixville
London Grove: 851 Gap Newport Pike, Avondale
Devon: 700 West Lancaster Ave., Wayne
Thorndale: 3951 Lincoln Highway, Downingtown
Paoli: 39 Leopard Rd., Paoli
West Goshen: 907 Paoli Pike, West Chester
School is back in session, which means that more than 18,000 children in our communities will receive free or reduced-cost breakfasts and lunches at school. For many of these students, school meals may be the only meals they can consistently rely on. But what happens when they go home over the weekend? That’s where our Weekend Backpack Program comes in: We provide nutritious and easy-to-prepare foods every Friday for children who are enrolled in the program. Using a rotating variety of shelf-stable foods that are purchased by the Food Bank (family-friendly pantry staples like pasta, canned fruit and peanut butter), these bags ensure that children and their families have enough food to eat meals throughout the weekends.
Keep an eye on your mailbox for a special postcard from CCFB with giving opportunities for this essential program. If you prefer, you can also donate online.
3. Practice Acts of Advocacy
Advocacy is central to what we do at the Food Bank. We count on public support to help further our mission and accomplish our goals, and without a network of allies to help us spread the word about our work, we’d be in trouble. We can organize and take action, but to make the biggest impact, we need our supporters to help share the important message about how hunger affects those living in our cities and towns.
Perhaps, during September, you can set a goal of sharing one hunger-related article a week to your social media network, or spend a little extra time educating yourself about local economic policies — like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — that can change the lives of people in our communities.
Ricky Eller, our administrative and program assistant, says that during Hunger Action Month, you can also practice advocacy in the following ways:
- Explore Feeding America’s new Advocate Resource Center to learn more about the Farm Bill and ways you can support a strong version of it. Congress is scheduled to reauthorize the bill at the end of September, and the results could put millions of Americans at greater risk of food insecurity.
- On Thursday, September 13th, Feeding America is hosting a Farm Bill Call-In Day. Dial (888) 398-8702. Callers will be asked for their zip code to be connected with the office of their Member of Congress. Here is a suggested script, if that’s helpful:
I am a constituent of your district, and I am calling on behalf of the Chester County Food Bank. Please protect SNAP — a critical program that helps millions of children, seniors, and veterans across the country — by supporting the Senate SNAP provisions of the Farm Bill. Please increase TEFAP in the final Farm Bill — a program that is critical to Chester County Food Bank’s ability to provide nutritious food to our community.
- Tweet your Member of Congress with a digital paper plate to tell them why hunger matters in our community! See here to learn more.
- Register to vote! Voter registration deadline is Tuesday, October 9.
4. Donate Food
Many people feel energized in September, making it the perfect time to hold a food drive. Gather a group of friends, neighbors, colleagues or church friends, and see how fun it can be to make a difference! When you host a food drive, you’re helping to provide our member agencies with nutritious, high-quality food so they can serve our neighbors struggling with food insecurity.
While all pantry staples are welcome, back-to-school time means there is an extra-high demand for breakfast foods. If possible, we’d appreciate food drives focused on nutritious breakfast favorites, like cereal, oatmeal, canned fruit in juice and cereal/granola bars (no high-fructose corn syrup, please!). See here to learn more.
5. Get to Know CCFB a Little Better
Brush up on CCFB’s mission and programs by watching a few of our new videos! A great place to start is with our mini-documentary, A Fresh Approach, which is all about our history and our work in the community.
6. Sign Up to Volunteer
Whether you’re new to CCFB or you’ve been a supporter for years, we’d love to have you pitch in as a volunteer. If you like to cook, garden, work with children or just spend some social time with others helping out a good cause, there is an opportunity waiting for you at the Food Bank! Commitments range from one afternoon-long session to ongoing shifts — it’s completely up to you and your availability! Come alone or as part of a team. See here for sign up info.
No matter how you choose to get involved, make Hunger Action Month a time that you look forward to each September to help Chester County Food Bank further our work in the community!
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.
Photos: Chester County Food Bank