Growing Hope and Nourishing Souls: Chester County Food Bank’s Fresh2You
Fresh, nutritious food is one of the cornerstones of a healthy, vibrant community. For thousands of years, local agriculture has sustained civilizations and fostered the growth of society as we know it.
But to every coin there is a flip side, and even today there are local areas where access to high-quality, fresh, nutritious foods is severely limited. Enter the Chester County Food Bank.
June 20 marks the exciting start of the 2016 season for Chester County Food Bank’s Fresh2You Mobile Market. This heartwarming program is a concerted effort to bring high-quality foods and nutrition education directly to Chester County communities in need.
Pastured eggs, fresh produce and healthful dried grains and legumes will be offered at every market site on a regular schedule every week. A custom-built truck with a wrap design by Miller Designworks and outfitted by E. L. Carpenter will allow the Food Bank to transport fresh foods directly to 10 sites in the area and set up remote marketplaces to serve the community.
The benefits of the Fresh2You program extend beyond the core function of bringing vital foods to recipients in need. In addition to helping area residents access crucial provisions, nutrition education will be offered at every market site to empower recipients in making healthful dietary choices.
The market is open to everyone and accepts cash, credit cards, debit cards, EBT, WIC and Senior Farmers’ Market Vouchers, making the Fresh2You market truly accessible to every community member. Moreover, individuals who shop with their EBT card at the Fresh2You market will receive double their SNAP dollars, creating a crucial increase in food-buying power for families.
The old saying “it takes a village” is certainly true for many endeavors. The roots for the Chester County Food Bank began in 1996 with Elmer Duckinfield and (then Commissioner, now Senator) Andy Dinniman. The two began a program based on the historical concept of food gleaning in order to support hungry individuals in the community.
From that beginning the program has grown to become Chester County Food Bank, which now distributes over 2.5 million pounds of food every year. Now 20 years later, Senator Dinniman and Elmer are able to witness the fruits of their early labors, with the ribbon-cutting and kickoff of the Fresh2You mobile market program.
Crucial to this year’s launch of Fresh2You is a key sponsorship from QVC. We spoke with Suzanne Quigley (Director of Community Affairs) from QVC to learn more about this exciting partnership.
“The Fresh2You Program is really the extension of a long-term relationship we’ve had with Chester County Food Bank,” Suzanne explains. “They’re a great collaborator with us. Since 2009 we’ve been involved with them through various initiatives including corporate donations. Our employees really like to volunteer at the Food Bank and we’ve also helped organize events.”
“In 2013 QVC formally partnered with the Food Bank and Triskeles with the Food For All program, and we’re very proud of that initiative. It’s a community garden on site at both of our buildings. Our employees volunteer their time to harvest 100% organic produce … and transport it to the Food Bank. In the past three years we’ve harvested just under 8,000 pounds of produce.”
In order to have the most beneficial impact on the community at large, one of the unique qualities of the Food Bank’s programs is that engaging nutrition education is paired with crucial provisions. The proverb of teaching a man to fish is steeped in wisdom, and the Food Bank draws on this age-old concept to address the issue of hunger from all angles.
The Food Bank supports Chester County with a roster of programs, including nutrition education, local farming and the Backpack Program, which serves 2,000 school students per month with healthy nonperishable foods.
Local farms like Pete’s Produce host the Food Bank’s farming initiatives, in which a bounty of crops are grown and harvested to support fresh food distribution efforts. These crops are a large part of what arrives at area food cupboards and shelters, as well as the Fresh2You mobile market, through the hard work of the Chester County Food Bank and their dedicated volunteers.
“The Fresh2You program is an innovative solution, and QVC is all about innovation,” Suzanne added. “We want to help support nonprofits that are thinking outside the box. The food category for QVC is a big one … it just seemed to make sense for so many reasons, not to mention that this is such a huge issue for Chester County. 1 in every 14 families go hungry every day in Chester County, and we are one of the wealthiest counties in the United States. If you think about how many kids that impacts, it’s just staggering.”
Dreams do come true—with hard work, cooperation and a network of support. Through initiatives like Fresh2You, the Chester County Food Bank and all of its supporters are growing hope and nourishing communities one day at a time.
To find out more about programs, news and how to get involved with Chester County Food Bank, visit the organization’s website and be sure to follow along on Facebook.
QVC garden photo: QVC
Remaining photos: Nathan Greenwood