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Ten Years of Real, Healthy Food for Chester County

This past November we celebrated our 10th birthday and it is a great time as we head into a new decade to reflect on our past work in light of all that remains undone.

We invite you to learn more about our team and tour each department through our most recent annual report. While we are proud of our achievements, you’ll see new, alarming statistics about the pressing need for food right now in our communities. With new data from United Way of Pennsylvania, the “ALICE” report clearly outlines the gap between the cost of living in Chester County and the qualifications for benefits that are out of reach for many of our neighbors. We will continue to advocate for polices that promote food security and equitable access to food for the people we serve. These include the root causes of poverty and the compounding factors that contribute to hunger.

Ten years of critical work is an accomplishment we share only through generous involvement. As we define and roll out our next strategic plan, we are inspired by the prospects ahead. We encourage you to stay committed through our next 10 years, as we take the people of our community Beyond Hunger.

 

Tax Reduction Strategies that Help Our Neighbors

We sat down with Chester County Food Bank Board member, Kevin McDermott, Private Wealth Advisor of Delphi Wealth Management Group to discuss two tax strategies for legacy giving.

DONOR ADVISED FUND (DAF)

“A popular philanthropic vehicle, a Donor Advised Fund can be set up to benefit the Chester County Food Bank. A DAF is a simple, tax efficient investment account. It allows donors to make a charitable contribution, receive an immediate tax deduction, and recommend grants from the fund over time to charities,” says Kevin McDermott,

Here’s how a DAF works:

  • Make a contribution from personal assets, including cash, stock, real estate etc.
  • Immediately, receive the maximum tax deduction allowed by the IRS.
  • Name the DAF Account, designate the advisors and name the Chester County Food Bank as beneficiary.
  • Your contribution is placed in the DAF investment account, which grows, tax-free.
  • At any time, you can recommend grants from the fund to Chester County Food Bank or any other charity.

“New tax laws have changed the nature of donations,” said McDermott. “Now charitable contributions may not be deductible if someone chooses to file their taxes using the new higher standard deduction instead of itemizing. The DAF allows an individual to lump several years of charitable contributions together to make itemizing their deductions worthwhile even though they can spread those contributions out over a number of years.”

QUALIFIED CHARITABLE DISTRIBUTION / QCD

McDermott said, “Another option for tax-free giving is available to retired folks who designate the Chester County Food Bank as the recipient of the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from retirement accounts or IRAs each year. As you may remember, when you reach the age of 70 1/2, the IRS requires a withdrawal of a portion of your retirement account each year, whether or not you need it for living expenses. The RMD is considered taxable income. To avoid reporting the RMD as taxable income, a wise and generous idea is to designate these withdrawals (or a portion of them) directly to the CCFB. The amount becomes a Qualified Charitable Distribution, a mutually rewarding strategy for giving.

To find the right provisions for your tax situation, please contact your financial representative or tax attorney.

To support the Chester County Food Bank, visit our website or call 610-873-6000 to speak with Beverly Abbonizio, Director of Development. 

4 Simple 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 four recipes from our collection for simple, affordable and nutritious holiday dishes that you can bring to the table this year:

Maple Glazed Squash: This recipe is a multi-tasker since it could be breakfast, a side dish or even a healthy dessert! With a dozen common varieties readily available, winter squash is a delicious nutrient-dense root veggie. This recipe is flexible for any variety and you could even include some sweet potatoes or carrots.

Roasted Beet & 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 featured as a Fresh2You recipe bundle this past season includes leeks but those can easily be substituted with red or yellow onions. A quick massage with olive oil tames the kale’s crunchy texture, and the bright slightly sweet dressing will have guests reaching for seconds. The salad is a lighter addition to the holiday menu.

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese: Mac & Cheese is a holiday tradition for many families but it can also be one of the most calorie-laden. That’s why we appreciate this healthier take (but oh-so-delicious) on a classic dish.  Butternut squash brings a little sweetness and creaminess enabling for less cheese. Don’t think of this one just for the holidays, this is a keeper for the entire winter. This also freezes well so make a little extra for a snowy day ahead.

 

Applesauce Cinnamon Oat Muffins: Lots of cookies to go around during the holidays so this muffin is a guilt free treat. These muffins are freezer-friendly so make a batch to grab on busy mornings or for a healthy snack. This is a great base recipe so feel free to change it up by adding bananas, raisins or even some roasted butternut squash.

Find more recipe inspiration here including those featured with our Fresh2You Mobile Market weekly recipe bundles. Let us know if you made any of these recipes!

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: Pixabay; all other photos: Chester County Food Bank

How to Maximize Your CCFB Food Drive

You’ve decided to organize a food drive for the Chester County Food Bank (CCFB)— that’s great! We simply couldn’t tackle food insecurity in our community without these types of donations that come from our dedicated, passionate supporters. Every single item that you and your family, friends, co-workers, and anyone else who’s participating, collect ends up in the hands of one of our neighbors in need, and it can make a positive impact on their day, week and beyond. 

Now that you’ve assembled your awesome crew of food drive team members and registered your drive with the Food Bank, you might be wondering how you can mobilize your energy and make the most of your efforts. We get questions like this a lot! One great place to start is with our Food Drive Tool Kit, which addresses frequently asked questions, provides a list of our most-needed food items, and includes handy resources, like our logo and promotional flyers. 

But there’s one major piece to the food drive puzzle which might not be clear, but it is really important for us: Just focus on a few items instead of trying to gather “one of everything.” While you might think of the food you gather as providing complete meals for one or a few families, it’s better to think of it like taking care of one category of food — perhaps pasta, grains and cereal, or canned or dried beans, or cooking oil. 

“We tell people that are starting to plan their food drive: Think of this as stocking the shelves in a grocery store,” said Claudia Rose-Muir, CCFB’s Direct Distribution and Procurement Manager. “If you were to collect 100 boxes of pasta and 100 jars of sauce, 100 families would have a meal, but if you brought a couple of this or a few of that, while it would be great and more than someone had, it doesn’t help to make a meal.” 

Stocking the shelves is, in fact, what food drives do for CCFB. Remember, we are not a food cupboard or pantry, where families and individuals come to pick up items that will help supplement their meals throughout the week. Chester County Food Bank is a centralized hunger relief organization, taking in donations from many sources, organizing and storing thousands of pounds of food in our warehouse, and then we redistribute items to food pantries, which we refer to as our “member agencies.” (For more on the differences between food banks and food pantries, see here). Our warehouse really does resemble a supermarket; the warehouse is organized by item and laid out in a similar fashion to a supermarket, with wide, deep shelves and aisles.

Choosing one or two items to focus on for your food drive — bonus points for creating a theme, like “pasta dinner” or “Soup-er Bowl” — also makes it easy for all participants to remember. Every time your team members are at the store doing their own shopping, they’ll remember to put a few extra of that item in their cart. Also, common pantry staples are something neighbors typically have on hand. When asking for donations, it’s best to be direct and specific, so a question like, “Do you have an extra can of soup or tuna in your cupboard?” might produce more effective results than a more vague, “Do you have anything to donate to our food drive?” 

Another bonus of approaching your food drive this way is that you can harness the power of buying in bulk (something we know all about from our trips to local produce auctions). Items like rice and dried beans are even more inexpensive when you buy them from a bulk section, which are becoming popular in mainstream grocery stores. If the item your food drive is collecting is on sale one week, you can stock up, and, of course, warehouse stores, like Costco and BJs, are your ace in the hole if you’re a member, when it comes to buying in large quantities.

As with all of our food drives, we encourage you to choose foods that are whole-grain, low-sodium/sugar, and that do not contain high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils. Also, please note: We are not able to accept expired or homemade goods, or items in glass. For answer to all other questions, please refer to our Food Bank Tool Kit, or reach out to us at  food@chestercountyfoodbank.org. Good luck on organizing your most successful food drive ever! 

 

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 to 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

Goodbye & Hello

How lucky we are at the CC Food Bank to have an amazing group of volunteers and staff! Cheryl Fluharty is one such example who shared with us years of smiles and a passion for our mission. Cheryl began volunteering with the Food Bank nearly eight years ago at our Downingtown location. When we moved to our current location in Exton, Cheryl, along with group of regular volunteers, didn’t skip a beat and continued volunteering. In October 2014, Cheryl transitioned from volunteer to part-time Production Cook to prepare meals for our expanding culinary program and partnership with Meals on Wheels. Her culinary skills and passion for food helped to increase client participation. She was also an integral part of creating Simple Suppers which enables us to serve more people in the community. Simply said, Cheryl cooked with love.

Due to the growth at the CC Food Bank, including the kitchen, the Production Cook now requires full time staff. To that end, we would like to welcome Levi Villagomez. A recent graduate of our FRESHstart Kitchen workforce development program, we are excited to welcome Levi to the team. If you’re volunteering with us or dropping off a food drive, please give Levi a welcoming Hello. Thank you Cheryl for sharing your time and talent with the Chester County Food Bank!

State Food Purchase Budget Falls Short

Take action today! Contact your state and local elected officials and let them know that you support the State Food Purchase Program.

• • •

July 1st marks the beginning of Pennsylvania’s fiscal year, and in most years, the beginning of a new state budget. Part of the budget that we pay most attention to at Chester County Food Bank belongs to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture – a line item called ‘State Food Purchase,’ which appropriates funds to the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP) and the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS).

Pennsylvanians are fortunate to live in one of a few states that provide a state food program. State food programs extend additional support to eligible households struggling with food insecurity. This is a supplement to other federal nutrition assistance programs like The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Throughout the year, CCFB engages with Pennsylvania legislators and our advocate network to support a funding increase to the State Food Purchase budget. Of the total allocation, CCFB receives a portion based upon county unemployment rates and participation in SNAP and the Medical Assistance program.

In fiscal year 2018, Chester County was awarded a share of $325,371 in State Food Purchase funds. Those funds provided nutrition assistance to more than 7,000 households and an additional 70,000 meals at soup kitchens and hot meal sites throughout Chester County.

Along with a network of Food Banks and charitable organizations under the name Hunger Free PA, we asked the state for a combined allocation of $24 million to feed Pennsylvanians in need; $21 million to SFPP and $3 million to PASS. In total, our request would represent 0.07% of the state’s $34 billion budget*. The Pennsylvania state legislature was not swayed by our efforts and did not allocate additional funds in the new State Food Purchase budget.

Over the last 10 years, the average annual increase in funding for the State Food Purchase Program was 0.9%. Meanwhile, over the same 10-year period, the average annual increase in food cost was 1.2%. Since 2014 the average annual increase in food distributed by the Chester County Food Bank is close to 5%. At this rate, the distribution and cost of food for food banks will outpace the state’s food assistance budget in a few years. This will place the burden on us to find additional resources to continue serving our communities with the same quality of healthy food we all deserve.

Take action today!

Contact your state and local elected officials and let them know that you support the State Food Purchase Program.

 

 


* Correction: our request would represent .07% of the state’s budget, not .06%.
Photos: Shutterstock, Dish Works

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.