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Meet the Community Partner: Octorara Area Food Cupboard

Chester County Food Bank works with dozens of food cupboards in our area to help distribute food to our neighbors in need. One such organization is the Octorara Area Food Cupboard in Parkesburg.

Open in its current location since December 2012, this completely volunteer-run food cupboard serves the Octorara Area School District region, including Atglen, Christiana, Cochranville, Compass, Parkesburg, Pomeroy, Sadsbury and Wagontown.

Through the support of local businesses, churches, schools, civic groups and individuals, it is able to supply nonperishable and fresh foods, as well as dairy and meats, to the community.

The Octorara Food Cupboard also administers an Emergency Food Box program to those in unexpected and dire situations. In 2016, it distributed more than 1,100 pounds of food to people in the area.

The Octorara Area Food Cupboard holds a special place in our hearts because CCFB has been part of it since the beginning. OAFC began in 2005 as a monthly mobile food pantry that would set up in a parking lot in Parkesburg, an area with little access for people in need of food. Operated by the Chester County Food Bank, this market would serve about 65 people with 1,500 pounds of food. In 2010, Judy Dougherty took over as lead volunteer for that mobile pantry and became OAFC’s director in 2012.

At that time, the mobile food market was distributing more than 9,000 pounds of food to 500 residents each month, and OAFC decided it was time for a permanent space. Through a collaborative effort with the Chester County Food Bank and Parkesburg Point Youth Center, as well as local businesses, churches and residents, Octorara Area Food Cupboard opened its doors on Dec. 4, 2012.

CCFB’s executive director, Larry Welsch, was there when that mobile market was founded, and admires Judy as a leader of the ever-growing OAFC.

“Judy is amazing! I am not sure what we would have done without her commitment to the people of that community,” he said. “She has a great team of volunteers and board members who really work hard for that area which, coincidentally, is my hometown!”

As director of OAFC, Judy heads a dedicated group of 50-plus volunteers, who are tasked with unpacking, sorting, identifying and weighing all the food items received. They also stock the shelves in the food area and work with clients coming in for pickups.

“The Octorara Area Food Cupboard’s work has been key to meeting the needs of one of the highest poverty areas in the county. The Chester County Food Bank depends on that work and its partnership with OAFC to ensure access to real, healthy food for the people of that area,” says Larry.

The Octorara Area Food Cupboard is located at 714 W. Main St. in Parkesburg and open Tuesdays from 10 a.m.–noon and 2–4 p.m, and Wednesdays from 10 a.m.–noon and 3–7 p.m.

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 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 take a steadfast approach to provide food and build support in the neediest communities, while raising awareness and engagement among our community.

Emily Kovach

Photos, top to bottom: Bigstock; Octorara Area Food Cupboard; Bigstock