Uncategorized

Water Garden Tour Benefits Food Bank (July 27-28)

One of the more unique events of the summer in Chester County is right around the corner, as the Brandywine Valley Water Garden Weekend Tour is slated for July 29-30.

The origins of the event can be traced back to 2005, when a group of approximately 30 pond enthusiasts gathered to use their interest in the elaborate water gardens built by Coatesville-based Turpin Landscaping as a vehicle for philanthropy. The Tour Committee has raised more than $145,000 for the Food Bank.

“It started as a small group who wanted to give something back to the community,” said Sarah Turpin, who co-owns Turpin Landscaping with her husband Jason, whom customers often refer to as an aquatic artist. “This year, we expect to have about 400 people.”

Self-guided tours are $45, while bus-guided tours are $75. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.

The tour includes 40 different ponds, all of which Turpin Landscaping has worked on, and a country barbecue, live music, and auction.

In 2009, upon the suggestion of Sen. Andy Dinniman, the Tour directed its efforts to supporting a newly created organization, the Chester County Food Bank.

“The Food Bank’s mission of providing food to those in need right here in our community blended well with the Brandywine Valley Water Garden Tour Committee’s desire to give back to the local community,” said Sarah Turpin.

 

“The Water Garden Tour and Turpin Landscaping were one of the first contributors to the Food Bank when we started in November 2009,” said Larry Welsch, Executive Director of the Chester County Food Bank. “From the team at Turpin, to the Tour Committee members, to all of the garden hosts, this event is truly a community coming together to help those struggling with food insecurity in Chester County.”

One $45 ticket to the Tour will provide 17 meals through the Food Bank.

“We are so very grateful and honored to be the beneficiary,” said Welsch.

The Tour offers the opportunity to visit the homes of local residents who have created beautiful waterscapes in their backyards. Included in the Tour are self-contained ponds with streams and water features ranging in size from small to expansive, as well as waterfalls without visible ponds. Beautiful landscaping, colorful flowers, arrays of dazzling waterfalls, and friendly fish of all colors, shapes, and sizes await those who visit just a few of the many homes featured on the Tour.

On Saturday evening, all the tour participants, along with all the homeowners who have opened their yards and water features in support of the event, are invited to gather at Turpin Landscaping on Martins Corner Road for the barbecue and silent auction.

From sun to shade, from flat to hilly terrains, ponds can be situated practically anywhere. The Turpins certainly love a challenge, as evidenced by some of the properties highlighted on the Tour.

“We do everything for the outdoor lifestyle,” said Sarah Turpin. “Everything from ponds to outdoor kitchens, patios, decks, and pizza ovens. But ponds are certainly a big part of our business.”

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Beyond a Fresh Approach

For the past few years our tagline, A Fresh Approach, has served us very well. When we updated our logo in 2015 (to what it is today) we introduced it with the tag which meant we were new and improved.

  • We had new delivery vehicles with billboard size messaging, and a newly designed warehouse space. This was a big step from our small Parkesburg garage where we first handled our food distributions where we started operations in 2009.
  • We increased our distribution of locally grown vegetables in addition to food staples and canned goods.
  • We encouraged volunteers to help us grow, harvest and process fresh food.
  • We offered lumber for churches, synagogues, schools and organizations to build raised bed gardens and donate their harvests to local pantries.
  • We focused on consistently providing our agencies with meats, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese and whole grains in addition to the typical foods offered by pantries.
  • We began to deliver produce to every corner of the county and to our city neighborhoods where there was no access to affordable fresh foods.
  • We reached out to corporations in new ways, focusing on Chester County and bringing in local volunteer teams to assist us in our efforts.
  • We set out to find the best thinking, the best connections, the best farmland and the best leadership to address better food equity in our community for all.

Together over the past ten years, our accomplishments have been impressive but there is more we are ready to do. We felt that our tagline needed to better represent our vision for the future of the Chester County Food Bank. We’ve created a brand that many people think is much older than 10 years and we want to trade on that good name. We have made connections with the best resources throughout the county to support our distribution partners. Now it’s time to promote those good works:

  • Over the last 10 years, we’ve upgraded our network of partner agencies.
  • At our headquarters in Exton our FRESHstart Kitchen program teaches life skills and provides training for a professional career in the food industry.
  • We host cooking demonstrations for children, youth and adults, to cook with nutritious ingredients and fresh produce; some they may have never seen before nor tasted.
  • We have access to land that is donated for farming in Chester County to grow fruits and vegetables.
  • For kids who get free or reduced lunches during the school year, we are providing food to take home on the weekends and working with community partners to increase summer meal locations throughout the county.
  • We provide Senior Food Boxes to over 700 residents from one corner of the county to the other.
  • We deliver healthy prepared meals through our Simple Suppers and our strong partnership with Meals on Wheels.
  • Fresh2You Mobile Market brings the bounty of Chester County to everyone with locations in low-income neighborhoods.  Everyone is welcome to shop at the market and we also accept SNAP (food stamps).  Additionally, we have introduced a nationally recognized Fruit and Vegetable prescription program.

To update our tagline, we wanted it to reflect on all we have been working on. But we needed something to add emotion. Something that would speak to our participants, volunteers and prospective donors. We want to focus on the successes we have had.  Treating all the people walking through our doors to receive food with dignity, grace and kindness. In the next 10 years, we plan on being even more efficient, investing even more in people, technology, resources and infrastructure. We want to assure each and every one of you that all donations are used efficiently and get directly to the people who need our help. We want to encourage all in our community to donate consistently and to volunteer. Knowing that we don’t look like most other Food Banks, and knowing that we have the ability to do so much more, We want to continue our efforts and go…. Beyond Hunger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Ready to Vote in PA Primaries

“While the Chester County Food Bank does not endorse candidates or political parties, we do advocate for every American’s right to vote,” said Larry Welsch, Executive Director of the Food Bank. “We feel that this effort is important to help us achieve our mission to ‘mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthy food.”

Primary elections in Pennsylvania are held on the third Tuesday of May in most years. In presidential years, the primary election is held on the fourth Tuesday of April.  In Pennsylvania, you can only vote for the candidates in the same political party you have named in your voter registration. For example, if you registered to vote as a member of the Republican Party then you can vote in the Republican primary, but not the Democratic primary. All voters can vote on constitutional amendments, ballot questions, and any special election contests held at the same time as a primary election.

2019 #PAPrimary Election Important Dates

APRIL 22  You must be registered to vote 29 days before the election, so April 22 is last day to register to vote for the May 21st Primary.

MAY 14      Last day to apply for a civilian absentee ballot | VotesPA.com/Absentee

MAY 17      Voted absentee ballots must be received by the County by 5pm | VotesPA.com/County

MAY 21      Primary Election Day: Polls are open 7am to 8pm | VotesPa.com/Polls

 

In this primary, candidates for the November 5th Municipal Election will be selected, offices include:

COUNTY:

Commissioners
District Attorney
Prothonotary
Recorder of Deeds
Register of Wills
Sheriff
Judge of the Court of Common Pleas
Magisterial District Judge

STATE:

Justice of the Supreme Court
Judge of the Superior Court
Judge of the Commonwealth Court

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.

April is National Volunteer Month

April is National Volunteer Month! We’d like to take this opportunity to celebrate and show appreciation for our dedicated volunteers, and to highlight the importance of an ongoing commitment to volunteering. We are only able to address food insecurity in Chester County because of the immense support that we receive from both volunteers and donors alike. Without committed volunteers who return month after month, year after year…there simply would not be a Chester County Food Bank!

Volunteer Month is a great time to get involved.  The temperatures are rising and Spring is here so we’ll be adding more volunteer opportunities each month. Be sure to check our calendar regularly for new openings

 

In honor of National Volunteer Month, here are some interesting tidbits about volunteering:

The Value of Your Time

Did you know that there’s a dollar amount equivalent to volunteer service? The estimated value of volunteer service in Pennsylvania is $24.35/hour. That amounts to $430,508 of estimated value volunteer hours for the Chester County Food Bank in 2018!

By the Numbers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent data (2015), here are some quick facts about volunteering nationwide:

  • 2 million people volunteered at least once between September 2014-2015, which equals a national volunteer rate of just under 25%. Impressive!
    (2,484 of those volunteers were with the County Food Bank!)
  • The volunteer rate for women is about 27.8%, while the rate for men is 21.8%. Gotta catch up, gentlemen!
  • Adults between the ages of 35-54 are most likely to volunteer, while young adults are the least likely to serve.

Reasons to Volunteer

If you haven’t volunteered with the Food Bank before, you may ask yourself ‘why should I?’. Here are some great reasons why you should give us a try. Volunteering with us can:

  • Teach you new skills, or perfect skills that you already have
  • Help to fill out your resume
  • Allow you to network with people who have similar skills or interests
  • Help you stay active and engaged
  • Give you a break from screens and your “normal day-to-day”
  • Provide a safe and comfortable environment where social skills can be improved
  • Offer a new perspective and appreciation for people outside of your typical social circle
  • Lead to new friends
  • Learn about the Chester County Food Bank and our work in your community

Have more questions about volunteering?  Email Lauren Van Dyk our volunteer coordinator or call 610-873-6000.

 

Our beloved volunteer Elmer Duckinfield with Executive Director, Larry Welsch. (circa 2010)

Favorite Quotes

We are always inspired by our volunteers. Here are a few famous quotes to inspire you to GET INVOLVED.

  • “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” – Muhammad Ali
  • “Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” ― H. Jackson Brown Jr.
  •  “The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”  – Oscar Wilde
  • “If our hopes of building a better and safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever.” — Kofi Annan
  • “It’s easy to make a buck.  It’s a lot tougher to make a difference. ” – Tom Brokaw
  • “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss
  • “Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

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.

Share Your Love of Cooking – Become a Taste It! Volunteer

If you love to talk to people and think that curly kale is a thing of beauty, then please register to volunteer with the Chester County Food Bank’s Taste It! program. You won’t be disappointed. I promise.

Taste It! volunteers do simple cooking demonstrations at the Fresh2You mobile market, or the various partner food pantries and community partners throughout the county.  Each week during Fresh2You’s market season, staff develop a new recipe for the volunteers to prepare, highlighting seasonal fresh, local produce. The sample ingredients are made available for purchase as a bundle for five dollars including a printed recipe (in English and Spanish) to take home.

In the summer months, we might offer up a smoothie with spinach and melon or a crispy green salad with chopped veggies, while the autumn months will feature warming dishes like the famous cauliflower mac’n cheese or a hearty beans and greens soup. Recipes are simple to follow, affordable, and always delicious. Very often the ingredients are combined in new ways that people just hadn’t thought of, incorporating as much healthy produce as possible.

This will be my fourth season wearing an apron, cutting up fruits and veggies at the Taste It table. There are many reasons why I keep coming back. First, I am passionate about the Chester County Food Bank’s mission to connect more people to high quality, affordable produce. Second, I love talking with the customers, many of whom come to market every week and tell us what they’ve cooked and how they’ve introduced their families to something new. And last but not least, the program staff and interns are not just a dedicated crew, but also top-notch people who know how to have fun. You can’t ask for more.

Martha lives in West Chester with her husband, two of her three kids and a crazy little puppy named Lulu. She loves to walk, swim, practice yoga and spend as much time outside with anyone who will join her.

Want to join Martha and our Taste It! team?  Complete the Taste It! volunteer application 

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. 

 

 

 

 

Delphi Wealth Management Presents $25,000 Donation to Food Bank

Delphi Wealth Management Group of West Chester presented the Chester County Food Bank with a $25,000 donation on Friday, March 1, 2019, to help sustain the Food Bank’s recently launched FRESHstart KitchenTM culinary workforce development program.

Delphi partners Kevin McDermott and John Kane presented the donation to Ranney Moran, Director of Culinary Programs along with students currently enrolled in the program. After presenting the donation, the Delphi Team volunteered at the Food Bank helping to sort and organize donated food.

FRESHstart Kitchen hosted its inaugural class in September 2018 at the Chester County Food Bank’s Exton headquarters. FRESH, an acronym for Focusing Resources on Employment, Self-Sufficiency and Health, was specifically designed to assist individuals with limited work experience, barriers to employment and significant personal challenges – including substance abuse and criminal records. The workforce development program will provide life skills to help address distinctive and significant challenges entering or re-entering the workforce.

“Support like this from Delphi Wealthy Management Group signifies a deep understanding of the challenges our neighbors face when seeking sustainable employment in Chester County,” said Food Bank Executive Director Larry Welsch. “We are grateful for this generous donation,” continued Ranney Moran, “and thanks to Delphi we anticipate life changing outcomes for our FRESHstart Kitchen students.

Delphi is a member of broker dealer Lincoln Financial Group, the marketing name for Lincoln National Corporation and its affiliates, a prominent financial services company dedicated to helping clients build, preserve and protect wealth. This affiliation helps provide depth, stability and significant resources to clients.

Brandywine Valley Water Garden Tour Donates $25,000 to Food Bank

Now in its 15th year, the Brandywine Valley Water Garden Tour is the premier tour of its kind in Chester County featuring over 35 water features and gardens throughout the county. Since 2010, at the suggestion of Senator Dinniman, the Tour has benefited the Chester County Food Bank and has contributed over $148,000.

The two day, self-guided tour held in July offers an opportunity to visit the homes of local residents and neighbors who have created beautiful waterscapes in their backyards with the help of Turpin Landscaping, a family-owned business headquartered in Coatesville.

“The Water Garden Tour is a creative method of giving back to our community, said Jason Turpin, CEO of Turpin Landscaping. We feel good knowing that our donation is going to the Chester County Food Bank, which is an incredible organization that uses the funds to help Chester County residents struggling to put food on the table.”

“The Water Garden Tour and Turpin Landscaping were one of the first contributors to the Food Bank when we started in November 2009,” said Larry Welsch, Executive Director of the Chester County Food Bank. “From the team at Turpin, to the Tour committee members to all of the garden hosts, this event is truly a community coming together to help those struggling with food insecurity in Chester County. We are so very grateful and honored to be the beneficiary.”

Water Garden Tour Committee Members and Turpin Landscaping family presented this year’s $25,000 donation to the Food Bank at a celebratory dinner held in December. For more information about the Water Garden Tour and 2019 tour dates, visit www.brandywinepondtour.com.

5 Simple Side Dish Recipes for the Holidays

When you’re thinking about, working with and helping others get access to food as often as we are at Chester County Food Bank, it’s impossible to ignore the significance that the holidays can have for our neighbors in need. For many families in Chester County, even if they can get by week to week, the big, festive meals that for many of us are a time of joy can present lots of extra stress.

Our partnerships with local food pantries and our ongoing programs like our Senior Food Boxes, which provide nutritious ingredients to nearly 800 seniors in our region, help to ease the burden for families during the holidays and all year long.

As we round the corner to the winter holidays ahead, we wanted to remind you that preparing food for special gatherings doesn’t have to be an overwrought or expensive undertaking. Even if you love to cook, it can be hard to eke out the time or spend extra on specialty ingredients at the market. And while we all love to tuck into our favorite comfort foods around the holiday table, extravagance is not what these holidays are about. They are about togetherness, love and gratitude.

One of the things that we’re grateful for is that our favorite holiday side dishes require little more than a few veggies, a handful of herbs, a splash of milk or broth and a good recipe to guide the way. Here are five recipes for simple, affordable and nutritious holiday classics that you can bring to the table this year:

Sweet Potato Hummus: This recipe from Food & Wine puts a new spin on sweet potatoes, one of the most wallet-friendly, nutrient-dense root veggies around. For far less than the cost of prepared hummus, you can make a giant batch of this creamy, mild dip to serve before the meal with crackers and baby carrots. Bonus points for the canned chickpeas, which add a huge boost of protein to this crowd-pleasing appetizer.

Massaged Kale Salad: Though it used to be a bit more of a “health food” staple, kale has risen through the ranks of the food world to become a mainstream veggie. And we’re glad for it, too: Our farm-grown kale is bursting with vitamins and minerals. This recipe from Eating Well keeps it exceedingly simple: A quick massage with olive oil tames the kale’s crunchy texture, and garlicky lemon dressing will have guests reaching for seconds.

Classic Herb Stuffing: Stuffing can be one of the worst holiday culprits in terms of being overly complicated (think oysters, raisins, sausage and so on) and also one of the most calorie-laden. That’s why we appreciate this no-nonsense (but oh-so-delicious) classic stuffing from Cooking Light. Whole grain bread, just a few veggies and herbs, chicken stock, eggs and butter are all you need to whip up this craveable carb.

Green Beans with Brown Butter: Brown butter is an amazing kitchen hack to add to your arsenal. Just a few moments over gentle heat transforms regular butter into a fragrant, nutty, rich sauce that elevates everything from oatmeal to ravioli. It takes green beans from standard to stellar in this three-step recipe from the fuss-free cooking pros at Real Simple.

The World’s Easiest Cranberry Sauce: No holiday meal is complete without a dish of bright, zesty cranberry sauce on the table! Skip the jellied, jarred stuff and try this recipe from the acclaimed food blog Serious Eats, which uses fresh cranberries from the acclaimed food and claims to be the world’s easiest version! The fresh fruit means a whopping dose of vitamin C and tons of juicy, tart flavor.

What are your favorite holiday dishes that are both economic and a snap to make? Let us know! Check out our resource of recipes including those featured with our Fresh2You Mobile Market weekly recipe bundles.

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: Chester County Food Bank; all other photos: Pexels

CCFB Gets Out the Vote

As we hope you know, Tuesday, November 6, marks the midterm elections for national seats in Congress, gubernatorial races and plenty of local political races. Sometimes, midterms slip quietly by — a scenario that is certainly not the case this year. The heightened political tensions in the U.S. have led to this being one of the most closely watched and talked about midterm elections in recent history. No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, voting is an important part of our democratic citizenship and a way to make our voices heard.

The Food Bank is encouraging both its employees and neighbors in the community to vote. On October 8, our Executive Director Larry Welsch released a public letter, explaining that the entire staff of the Chester County Food Bank will be provided paid time off during the working day to vote.

“While the Chester County Food Bank does not endorse candidates or political parties, we do advocate for every American’s right to vote,” Welsch said. “We feel that this effort is important to help us achieve our mission to ‘mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthy food.”

Our friends from The Town Dish recently spoke to us about Election Day and the importance of voting especially in relation to the Food Bank and its mission.  For the whole story, head over to The Town Dish to read more about us getting out the vote. 

 

A Message from Our Executive Director: Voting is One of the Most Patriotic Acts

A message from Larry Welsch, Executive Director of the Chester County Food Bank

Voting is one of the most patriotic acts we can participate in as Americans. While the Chester County Food Bank does not endorse candidates or political parties, we do advocate for every American’s right to vote. In the 2016 election, nearly 86,000 Chester County residents missed their opportunity to participate in democracy. In a 2014 Pew Research Center study, it was reported that scheduling conflicts with work or school are the greatest barriers keeping voters from the polls on Election Day.

In recognition of this, the Chester County Food Bank is observing this election day, November 6th, 2018 by actively encouraging our staff and community partners to get out and vote. As an organization with county-wide visibility, we feel it is a great responsibility of ours to model civic engagement and encourage our affiliates to vote this year and in all future elections. The entire staff of the Chester County Food Bank will be provided paid time off during the working day to vote. We feel that this effort is important to help us achieve our mission to “mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthy food.”