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For Too Many Kids, Summer Means Hunger

 

 

 

The end of the school year is fast approaching and for over 18,000  students in Chester County that means the uncertainty of a daily meal since school will be out of session.  Help the Chester County Food Bank to fill the shelves for neighbors in need by hosting a Summer Food Drive.

The Chester County Food Bank is reaching unprecedently low numbers in food donations. Donations are critical to helping us serve our network of community agencies throughout Chester County. We are asking for your help now to specifically combat summer food scarcity for students. When children are not in school during the summer months, they lose their access to free breakfast and lunches. They turn to their local food cupboards for help. Please consider hosting a food or fund drive within your school, church, neighborhood, or employer during the month of May so we can keep our Chester County kids fed during these summer months.

FOOD DRIVES are a powerful connector for the communities that we serve. The items from your food drive will be sent to our network of more than 160 member agencies organizations such as food cupboards, meal sites, and direct service partners.  Your donation will help feed neighbors in our community who are struggling to put food on the table. When possible, please donate items that are whole grain, no/low sugar/sodium and without high fructose corn syrup. We also ask that you not donate expired food items or items in glass jars. Download the Summer Food Drive Flyer here (or here for a flyer for your own message). Check out our food drive toolkit for how to get started.

FUND DRIVES (monetary donations) are equally as important to our mission to ensure access to real, healthy food and are used to leverage our bulk buying power. Increase the impact of your food drive by supplementing your drive with a fund drive. Checks can be made payable to Chester County Food Bank, give to our online Summer Food Drive or use our online tool for hosting your own virtual food drive. chestercountyfoodbank.fenly.org

Transportation is a significant cost for the Chester County Food Bank and it is challenging to arrange food drive pick-ups around our daily scheduled food deliveries to member agencies. We encourage you to bring your donation directly to CCFB which is located at 650 Pennsylvania Drive in Exton. Please schedule large deliveries (500 lbs+ / approximately 2 cars full or a large SUV/truck) at least 24 hours in advance by emailing food@chestercountyfoodbank.org, or calling 610-873-6000 x126.

Please help make sure no child in Chester County goes hungry this summer.

Meet Our Community Partner: Great Valley Food Cupboard

At the Chester County Food Bank, we’re proud to partner with a number of like-minded organizations around our region, whose missions align with ours.

One such partner is the Great Valley Food Cupboard (GVFC), in Devon. Since 2012, this community-oriented food pantry has made it its mission to help families fill their refrigerators and kitchen shelves with extra food each month. Its tagline is “Compassion in Action,” which is visible each week as it opens its doors to neighbors from surrounding communities. All those who visit the Great Valley Food Cupboard are treated with dignity and respect, and their needs are met with care that’s free of judgment.

Run by a volunteer staff, the GVFC is open each Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the second Wednesday of each month from 6 to 8 p.m. During these hours, residents from the Tredyffrin Easttown School District and Great Valley School District are welcome to come to the cupboard, located in the Education Building of The Baptist Church in the Great Valley at 945 N. Valley Forge Rd. in Devon. GVFC serves more than 250 individuals every month.

Many food cupboards can only offer canned, dried and other nonperishable goods to their guests, but thanks to the partnership with Chester County Food Bank, the Great Valley Food Cupboard is also able to offer fresh fruit and vegetables. According to Carol Claypoole, a church volunteer who runs the food cupboard, clients really appreciate the variety and quality of the food they receive.

“It’s rewarding to see the relief on people’s faces when they receive their groceries,” she said. “Hearing, ‘You made this so easy!’ is always such a great feeling.”

During the spring and summer, the volunteer staff at the Great Valley Food Cupboard look forward to providing produce to clients from the gardens of local gardeners from the Chester County Food Bank’s Raised Bed Garden Program. Carol says, “The raised bed gardens are such a win-win experience for everyone … the folks who grow the gardens are proud to help and the folks that receive the food are so grateful.”

Any families who live in the Great Valley area who are in need of support and would like details on signing up for the Great Valley Food Cupboard should call the church’s office at 610-688-5445. The same number should be used for anyone interested in volunteering, as well.

 

Learn more about the Chester County Food Bank? 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 the community to ensure access to real, healthy food.

Emily Kovach

 

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

Show Us Some Love! ❤️ Support CCFB by Connecting with Us on Social Media

This February QVC will 𝗱𝗼𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗲 $𝟭 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆 𝗻𝗲𝘄 𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝗼𝗿 𝗳𝗼𝗹𝗹𝗼𝘄 𝘁𝗼 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝘀𝗼𝗰𝗶𝗮𝗹 𝗽𝗮𝗴𝗲𝘀 – up to $10,000! So if you aren’t following us head over to Chester County Food Bank to LIKE us on Facebook or FOLLOW on Instagram and LinkedIn profiles! Help us reach our goal of 10,000 new Likes and Followers across our social media accounts and to raise $10,000 from QVC.  ❤️ xoxox

 

How You Can Show Us the Love
During the month of February, simply “LIKE” or “FOLLOW” Chester County Food Bank’s Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn profiles for your support to count, then spread the word to your friends and family.

 

“Heat or Eat”: Some Neighbors Have to Make This Difficult Choice

 

 

The blustery days of winter have arrived in force. We are seeing record-setting lows in temperatures. Unfortunately, as the chill of winter blasts through the hills and towns of Chester County, our communities are still in desperate need. Hunger knows no season.

Those less fortunate still require heat and hot water and other social services, in addition to food. The impacts of the pandemic continue to affect individuals and families who may have never experienced food insecurity.  People in our community, unfortunately, may have to decide whether to pay a utility bill or cut drastically into their food supply. Heat or Eat… what would you choose?

Government assistance isn’t always an option. Household income generally must be at or below 150 percent of the poverty line. For a family of three for the federal fiscal year 2022, that’s $2,745 a month or about $32,940 a year or less to qualify for government food programs. This is where we help. There is no need to choose between paying for heat or choosing to eat. Our neighbors depend on food assistance from CCFB and its network of hunger-relief partners to make ends meet all year long.

You can help by donating in one (or more) ways. Your donations are always welcome and valuable to the Chester County Food Bank and we appreciate everything you do all year long.

  • Food Donations: Take advantage of winter sales at local supermarkets. Picking up a few extra non-perishables while shopping for yourself or your family is an easy way to be involved with little effort. Food donations can be dropped off at CCFB  Monday – Friday 8a-5p. Get your neighborhood or organization involved and host a larger food drive. Check out our toolkit for resources to get started.
  • Virtual Food Drives & Fundraisers: With many businesses working remotely and the limitations of social gatherings, hosting a virtual food drive or fundraiser is a great way to safely keep people connected. Get set up in minutes and you’ll create a unique web link to share with your group to start fundraising.
  • Volunteer: We are offering volunteer opportunities, however, the number of people in a shift is limited for Covid safety protocols. Come out of winter hibernation and join other members of our community to sort, pack and help with food distribution indoors. Sign up here.
  • Monetary donations. Too frigid out? Bad roads? A simple click here will send your donation directly to us, where 85 percent of all monetary donations go directly to program costs. Make it easy and join Beyond Hunger 365, our community of monthly donors.  Any amount makes an impact.


Join other donors and help us continue our mission to mobilize the community to ensure access to real, healthy food.

 

 

Thanks to you, we’re growing a healthier community.

 

The Chester County Food Bank is the central hunger relief organization serving more than 160 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.

Ed Williams

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

Say Farewell to 2021 and Do Good with a Year-End Donation

It’s been another challenging year that we are happy to turn the page on, but you can still do some good with a year-end donation. Your gift now can make a big difference for those served by the Chester County Food Bank. Remember, taxpayers can deduct up to $300 of charitable donations they made in 2021 without having to itemize and the same limit applies to single and joint filers. This deduction is only available because of the CARES Act.

DONATE NOW! 

Your gift of any size helps us provide nutritious, healthy food to our hungry neighbors. This year, our generous donors enabled us to distribute 3.5 million pounds of food with 50% of that being fruits and vegetables!  Learn more about the many ways we support our community!

We can’t emphasize it enough: every gift of every size helps. Our impact has never been greater, and it is the direct result of the generosity of our donors, grace from our committed partner agencies, and the grit of our dedicated volunteers and staff.

It will take years for families, seniors, and veterans to recover from the significant and lasting impact of the pandemic. We’re inspired by young donors like Jack and Owen, 7 and 5-year-old brothers who collected food and funds for their first ‘thumbraiser’; we’re thankful for business partners like Bentley Systems and their Sustaining Community Match Challenge (there is still time to double your donation!); and honored to have community partners like the Brandywine Valley Water Garden Tour, which raises funds on our behalf.

Person writing check with pen and checkbook cash wealth money

Won’t you join other donors and help us continue to serve in 2022? The holidays shine a light on our neighbors in need, but the cold reality is that they can use a helping hand all year long. You can donate by year’s end in a number of ways:

Thank you for considering the Chester County Food Bank when making your end-of-year, tax-deductible donation. Here’s to a safe and HEALTHY 2022!

 

Have a Bounty in Your Garden? Share with Your Neighbors

It’s that glorious time of summer when hours of sunshine during the day and a good soaking from evening thunderstorms make for happy plants, as evidenced by the backyard and community gardens positively exploding with fresh fruits and veggies. You can see the tomato and squash plants growing in leaps and bounds before your very eyes!

Some gardens even become so prolific that the gardener has an overwhelming surplus of products to deal with. Sometimes a bounty can feel like a burden; after months spent tending to plants, the last thing a gardener wants is to watch perfectly good plants rot or be eaten away by pests.

If your garden is growing zucchini faster than you can eat it, by all means, surreptitiously drop off some to your neighbors. Then, consider donating some to the food cupboard closest to you.

Here at the Chester County Food Bank, we receive a lot of questions this time of year about donating fresh food from gardens. Every food cupboard is going to have its own guidelines so don’t be shy about reaching out to ask specific questions before dropping off produce. There are more than 30 crops people could be growing right now, all with different harvest directions. Please review our best practices for harvesting and donating produce or watch this general tips for harvesting video. Please only donate quality produce you would eat yourself. Avoid donating bruised. or overly mature veggies.

One thing we can recommend for sure is not allowing your zucchini to grow to the size of baseball bats! When squash gets too big, the flavor and texture suffer, and the seeds can become tough and inedible. Sure, people can potentially shred one up for zucchini bread or muffins, but this wonderful produce won’t go as far to provide nutrition to families in need as when it can be sautéed, grilled, or otherwise cooked into a healthful meal.

Happy harvesting!

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 visit our Volunteer page. Thanks to you, we’re growing a healthier community.

The Chester County Food Bank is the central hunger relief organization serving more than 150 food cupboards, meal sites and social service organizations throughout Chester County. We mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthful food.

Emily Kovach

 

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

Photos: Pexels

Get Your Hands Dirty for a Great Cause: Start a Raised Bed Garden

Did you know that the Chester County Food Bank is well-versed in the education and execution of raised-bed gardens? Imagine being able to participate in a thriving program that provides an excuse for some built-in therapy, courtesy of Mother Nature while growing fresh produce for food insecure neighbors within your community.

Gardens are powerful places for growing community, sharing knowledge and, of course, sharing food. The partner gardens play a crucial role in getting fresh produce out into their communities. Our garden partners collectively grow 40,000 pounds of vegetables annually for our network of food cupboards and meal sites.

What exactly is a raised-bed garden?

Wood-framed raised-garden beds, also called garden boxes, are great for growing small plots of vegetables and flowers. They keep pathway weeds from the garden soil, prevent soil compaction, provide good drainage and serve as a barrier to pests such as slugs and snails.

Where are the Food Bank’s raised-bed gardens?

With roots stemming from the Gleaning Program in 1997, the raised bed garden program was adopted by the Food Bank in 2009 with six partner garden sites, and has since grown to over 100 gardens hosted at schools, food cupboards and social service agencies. Our raised bed garden manager and garden educator work with host sites for their initial garden set up and educational support.

I want to help. Where can I find out more about starting my own garden?

We encourage home gardeners to grow and donate produce to your local food cupboard. Please review our best practices for harvesting and donating produce. We ask that you only donate quality produce – avoid donating bruised or overly mature veggies – no giant zucchini please!  Questions about donating produce contact Catie Hargraves, Produce Manager at chargraves@chestercountyfoodbank.org or 610-873-6000 x125

If you don’t have a home garden, we invite you to join us for volunteer opportunities at some of our host sites.

 

When is a good time to begin my garden?

With gardening, any time is a great time to begin. Check out are gardening resources from container gardening, to building a raised bed, to our collection of tutorial videos.

You can also donate foodfunds and time to help us achieve our mission. Call (610) 873-6000 to speak to someone about getting involved. 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. 

Ed Williams

NOTE: This post was originally published in March 2017 and has been modified for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Meet the Team: The Tuesday Terrors Volunteers

Here at the Chester County Food Bank, we rely on our generous volunteers for so much of what we are able to accomplish. From processing donations to staffing events, it is thanks to the energy and dedication of our amazing volunteers that we can continue to help so many families and individuals in our community to have access to nourishing food and educational programming.

While we greatly appreciate all of our volunteers, there is an extra-special group that has been volunteering with the CCFB for years. This good-natured crew of volunteers is lovingly referred to as the “Tuesday Terrors.” They give their time every Tuesday morning in our warehouse and kitchen, and then all go out to lunch together afterward! (The pandemic of course has changed their lunch plans.) Throughout their years of service, the group has become a coordinated and well-trained team that can manage a number of tasks with limited supervision. From 9 a.m. until noon every Tuesday, they sort donated food, clean veggies, pack Meals on Wheels and pitch in wherever else they are needed.

Gerry Miller and his wife, Sue, joined the Tuesday Terrors in 2013 because they had both retired and wanted to participate in an activity that was socially engaging and benefited the community. One of their neighbors suggested the CCFB because they had a very positive experience volunteering with us. Gerry and Sue have fulfilled their goals with the Tuesday Terrors. Gerry said, “For Sue and me, the best parts are the camaraderie, and helping those in the community who might otherwise go hungry.”

Gerry says their group would be happy to welcome others, and encourages anyone interested to give volunteering a try. “You’ll meet a lot of wonderful people, volunteer in a very positive environment and discover that you are playing an important role in helping get food to people in need.”

Another Tuesday Terror, Gail Kimble, enjoys that the group is made up of strangers from diverse backgrounds who became friends. “We work hard, laugh a lot, share stories and care about each other and our families in a special way. We enjoy the work and are happy to help families who may be hungry,” she said. Her favorite part of volunteering at CCFB? “Knowing that in a small way I can impact someone’s life.”

Jerry West started volunteering at the CCFB in 2010 when we were still in our former location in Guthriesville. He’s found the experience to be satisfying in a fundamental way. “Volunteering lets me use my many skills that I have learned over my 80 years,” he said. “I feel I am giving back to others who need a helping hand.”

If you’d like to join the Tuesday Terrors or volunteer with the Chester County Food Bank in any capacity, let us know! You can check out our Volunteer FAQ page for more information, and email volunteer@chestercountyfoodbank.org with unanswered questions or to get involved.

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

 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.Photos were taken prior to CDC mask-wearing guidelines but we wanted to show smiles 🙂

4 Ways to Make the Most of Hunger Action Month

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 four that can help you to make the most of it:

1. 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.

During Hunger Action Month, you can also practice advocacy in the following ways:

  • Join us in speaking out for the importance of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. SNAP is crucial for so many in the Commonwealth. Recently introduced federal rules will cause thousands of Pennsylvanians to suffer from hunger, Food Banks and the charitable food network to strain to meet increased demand, and retailers and food producers to lose profits and experience a more constrained customer base. Learn more about SNAP and how your vote matters in protecting these important programs.
  • Prepare to use your voting power to stave off hunger! September 22nd is #NationalVoterRegistrationDay and it is easier than ever to register in Pennsylvania! Residents can register online or check their registration status by visiting VotesPA.com. The last day to register in time to vote (November 3) is October 19th. Don’t delay, register today!

2. Donate Food (Virtually)

We may not be able to gather a group of friends in person, but you can virtually host a food drive. Rather than bringing people together in person or encouraging them to go out shopping for a traditional food drive, we are asking for people to host a virtual food drive, Individual or Team fundraiser through our online platform.  Your financial gift enables us to purchase the most needed foods to create emergency food boxes but also provide fresh fruits and vegetables to help the many people across Chester County that have been severely impacted by missed work, increased childcare expenses, and uncovered medical bills.

 

3. Get to Know CCFB a Little Better

Brush up on CCFB’s mission and programs by watching a few of our 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. Be sure to check out our Eat Fresh classes and try out a new recipe. 

4. 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.

Emily Kovach

Photos: Chester County Food Bank

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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. And that number is trending upward due to the increase in purchases during the pandemic. 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 years, we’ve developed relationships with local farmers in addition to having our own agriculture program and two staff farmers. Between our farm connections and own planning, we can forecast what we’re looking for in terms of variety and quantity of fresh produce, and then buy in bulk from partners at discounted prices and grow for own programs such as Fresh2You Mobile Market and Eat Fresh.

  • Wholesalers: Through our relationship with Philabundance, which began in 2016, and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Cooperative (MARC) we’re able to get great leads on especially good wholesale deals on food. 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, you can find us 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.

To stretch funds even further, we 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

 

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