Tag Archives: Fresh2You

Chester County Food Bank’s Sustained Commitment to Nutrition

When it comes to food and dietary choices, many of us have learned that it’s more about quality than quantity. But for many of our neighbors in Chester County, it’s really about both. Quantity — that is, simply enough food on the table, day after day — is the primary struggle for many families and individuals facing food insecurity. When meals are unpredictable or scarce, quality often isn’t even a luxury that can be factored into the equation.

Here at the Chester County Food Bank, we’re aiming to change that. No matter where people are getting their food from, we believe they shouldn’t have to sacrifice nutrition and quality when it comes to the food they’re putting into their bodies.

For many years, we haven’t accepted soda and other sweetened beverages or candy donations in large quantities, and have also worked nonstop to find innovative ways to provide fresh food to our clients via our Fresh2You Mobile Market, the Fresh2You Fruit & Vegetable Prescription (FVRx) program, Taste It! and Eat Fresh educational platforms, Raised Bed Garden Program and more.


“There is a ton of scientific research and proof that diet-related diseases disproportionately affect people in economically challenged areas,” Denise Sheehan, Director of Strategic Initiatives explained. “Our goal at the Food Bank is to not add to that problem, and to expand access to what people on a limited income can afford.”

During our recently conducted community food security assessment, we gathered feedback from over 1,000 of our food pantry members through surveys and focus groups. We received an overwhelming response that pantry members are concerned about their health and the most important foods when coming to the pantry are fresh produce, quality protein and healthy dairy items. So over the course of the next few years, our goal is to provide more of these items, which can often be higher in price, and so out of reach for many people. Then, with those items taken care of, our clients can readjust their food budgets and have more to spend on items of their choosing to fill in around what we provide.

“For instance,” Sheehan said, “we’re hopefully going to distribute less of the highly processed canned items which are typically loaded with high fructose corn syrup added sugar and sodium and replace them with the simple ingredients and recipes.”

To start, CCFB is going to monitor the foods that we purchase with donated dollars and government funds more closely to be sure they’re as nutritionally impactful as possible while also meeting our clients’ expressed needs. Of course, we still want to provide like cereals (low in added sugar), fruit in juice, and canned proteins like tuna, chicken and beans, but are going to pass by options that include high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oil (trans fat) and excessive added sugars. (As far as food drives and donations are concerned, we are still happy to receive items from our most wanted food items list)


We’re excited to embark on this next step of our journey to help fight hunger and food insecurity in Chester County. If you have any questions about our commitment to nutrition, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask!

Want to learn more? 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

 

Meet the Team: Solange Noguera

From maintaining our warehouse to managing our partner farm sites, we rely on our dedicated staff for everything we do at Chester County Food Bank. We would never be able to reach as many of our neighbors in need, and keep everything running smoothly and efficiently, without them!

As the county population continues to grow, we’ve added people to our team staff who can help us connect to and communicate with all of the people that we serve. One of these people is Solange Noguera (she goes by Sol), our bilingual outreach educator, who is instrumental to our work with the Spanish-speaking communities in the county.

Sol began working for CCFB in May 2018. Prior to CCFB, she was a teller at a local federal credit union. She is happy with the career change, and says it’s hard to pick just one thing that she loves about her job at the Food Bank.

“Working for CCFB has been a complete 180 from my other jobs,” she said. “The biggest difference is that I’m actually making a difference in people’s lives. I’m looking out and keeping the communities’ interest in mind, whereas with my other jobs, I was working to help a company or companies that I really did not care about.”

The position, which works with several of CCFB’s programs and initiatives (including Fresh2You and the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program), does include its own set of challenges.

“The challenging aspect of the job is remembering that I am one person and can’t take on a lot of projects,” Sol admitted. “I would love to be able to be in multiple places and do multiple things at once, but I still haven’t figured out how to do that. So for now, I have to focus and give my best to the things I am involved with.”

Through her work with us, CCFB has been able to better accommodate the needs of the Hispanic/Latino population in Chester County, as well as build better relationships with them.

“The amazing part is that there is still so much more room to grow, and I am super excited to be a small part of it,” Sol said.

In the future, Sol anticipates reaching an even bigger immigrant population and setting up programs that will allow them to grow and feel part of the Chester County community.

“I also envision that we will be able to incorporate many more members of the community into our classes and programs (as trainers or facilitators), so that the community is giving back to the community,” she noted.

Outside of work, Sol, who lives in Malvern, enjoys outdoor activities, like hiking the many trails through Chester County, as well as biking and swimming. She also likes being in the kitchen.

“I really enjoy cooking and incorporating veggies I have never used in my plates,” she said. “Most of all, I enjoy doing all these things with family and friends.”

We are grateful to have Sol as a part of the Chester County Food Bank staff, and for her enthusiasm, passion and community-centered mindset. Thanks for being part of our team, Sol!

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, top to bottom: Chester County Food Bank; Chester County Intermediate Unit; Chester County Food Bank

Meet the Community Partner: La Comunidad Hispana

Here at the Chester County Food Bank, our mission is to end food insecurity in the communities in our county. It’s an ambitious goal — the problem of hunger is a complex one, touching on economics, access to food, nutrition and cooking education, advocacy, legislative policy and so much more. While our organization is going nine years strong and has accomplished so much during that time, we definitely can’t tackle these issues alone. It’s thanks to our strong bonds and relationships with community partners that we’re able to continue reaching our neighbors in need in effective, sustainable ways.

One such community partner is La Comunidad Hispana (LCH), a diverse, bilingual Federally Qualified Health Center in southern Chester County. Its mission is to “change lives by serving southern Chester County as the leading provider of integrated health and community services.” Founded in 1973 by Peggy Harris and Margarita Quiñones with the support of Kennett Square residents, clergy and advocates, LCH set forth to serve the needs of the primarily Latino population who came to the region to find jobs in the mushroom industry. LCH was established as a place where vulnerable adults and families could go for health and medical issues large and small.

Now, more than 40 years later, the committed, passionate team at LCH continues this mission at various sites: its Health and Community Services office and Dental Center in Kennett Square, its Community Health Center in Oxford and its brand-new Women’s Health Center in West Grove. The Women’s Health Center is an exciting new development for LCH; all of its women’s health services will be provided out of this office, and with an additional provider added to the staff, the organization will be able to serve more women than ever.

CCFB’s relationship with LCH began about five years ago, when we started our EatFresh program. During that time, we sought organizations to partner with, specifically health clinics in the county.

“LCH was one of those, and the idea was that they were connecting with food-insecure families whom we believed we could teach some basic healthy cooking options to and also be able to give them some fresh produce at the end of each class,” said Wendy Gaynor, director of Food Security Initiatives at Chester County Food Bank. “It turns out that the people [served by LCH] have a wealth of knowledge surrounding cooking, so what we’re now doing is building community. They’re coming for the produce, for the connection and to have an experience together. They get to come together with other people and enjoy good food.”

We’re still working with LCH on EatFresh, and are pleased to announce that we’re extending our partnership with them to offer the Fruit & Vegetable Prescription (FVRx) program to some of the families there. Families are identified through the clinic and are given “prescriptions,” which are like vouchers that can be redeemed for fresh produce at CCFB’s Fresh2You Truck.

These components of our partnership exemplify just what makes LCH so special. It’s not simply there to administer medical treatment and services — aims to serve the holistic health of the families and individuals it serves. One example of this is LCH’s Family Fitness Program. It piloted this program two years ago, with the support of the Edna G. Kynett Memorial Foundation, and has been such a success, LCH decided to continue it.

“The goal of the program is to provide intensive health interventions for families with children at risk of chronic disease (such as heart disease and diabetes), based on overweight/obese status,” explained LeeAnn Riloff, director of Development at LCH. “We enroll the entire family into the program and over the course of a year, offer them regular clinical check-ins, health education, consultation with a nutritionist, free healthy food bags and fitness equipment and deeply discounted family YMCA memberships.” The families also receive access to LCH’s special programs, including walking/running groups and the FVRx partnership with CCFB. LCH also hosts three raised beds that are part of our Raised Bed Garden Program — these help to supplement the fresh produce CCFB brings to on-site EatFresh classes.

“These food bank programs are critical elements of the program for us,” said LeeAnn. “Our nutritionist can give families advice to eat lots of fruits and vegetables instead of loads of empty carbs, but unless they can access the produce and know how to use it, it isn’t all that useful!”

La Comunidad Hispana is just one of the many community partners we work with, and is such an important resource for the communities of southern Chester County. To learn more about its mission, visit its website and Facebook page.

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: La Comunidad Hispana; all other photos, top to bottom: La Comunidad Hispana, Chester County Food Bank (next two photos), La Comunidad Hispana

A Fresh Take on Our Fresh2You Program for 2018

Summer is nearly here, which means it’s time for one of our favorite annual initiatives: the Fresh2You Mobile Market! With generous support from QVC and the Chester County Health Department, this will be our fourth season of bringing affordably priced fresh fruits and veggies to underserved areas via our mobile market on wheels. The official start to the Fresh2You season is Tuesday, June 12.

This year brings some exciting new developments to Fresh2You! For starters, we’re expanding the Fruit & Vegetable RX (FVRx) program in the hopes of helping even more of our neighbors incorporate more fresh produce into their diets. Essentially, FVRx participants are provided with a real “prescription” for Veggie Bucks from their medical provider. Veggie Bucks are vouchers that can then be used to purchase fruits and vegetables each week at the Fresh2You Mobile Market.

“Last year, we piloted it with The Clinic, and it was extremely successful, so we’re expanding it to be at two additional sites,” said Roberta Cosentino, the Fresh2You Mobile Market manager. “One is the Coatesville VA and one is La Comunidad Hispana in Kennett Square. Folks can come to any of our markets and redeem those prescriptions for produce!”

Another update for 2018 is that we are no longer attending two of our sites from last year — Modena and Honey Brook — though we hope to be back in future years. A new location for us will be at the Coventry Mall in North Coventry. “This was somewhere we noticed a lot of people were coming from to our Phoenixville market, and we have a lot of community support out there,” said Roberta.

As always, we want to remind our supporters and clients that the Fresh2You Mobile Market is open to everyone. Whether you scour for the best bargains at the grocery store or shop for heirloom produce at your local farmers market, you are welcome at Fresh2You.

“We’ve learned very clearly that regardless of income level, people want to support local agriculture, want to know where their food is coming from and that there’s no shortage of demand for local produce,” Roberta noted. “We’ve learned that lesson over and over, and we’re trying to increase access in a way that’s dignified and equitable. Part of that equity is making the same foods available to everybody. When you see our logo, come on over and check us out!”

Anyone shopping at the market helps to support the program itself. Fresh2You accepts cash, credit/debit cards, SNAP/EBT and WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers (FMNP). We match FMNP vouchers with Veggie Bucks, which we encourage people to come back and use the next time they shop.

No matter who you are, we’re betting that you love getting local produce, grains, spices and honey at a great price. Because of our relationships with farmers and remarkable buying power (we’re almost at the wholesale buying level of a grocery store!), we’re able to purchase food at extremely low wholesale prices. Because we’re a nonprofit and don’t mark the food up, we’re able to pass the savings on to our shoppers. Here are just a few examples of our prices:

  • Local eggs: $2.50/dozen.
  • Fresh bunches of kale: $2 each.
  • Tomatoes: $2/pound.

This year, we’re also bringing back our wildly popular recipe bundles. Each week, trained volunteers run a recipe demonstration that features a seasonal veggie. The volunteers cook the recipe on-site and give out samples. The recipes are generally very simple and healthful; alongside the samples, we hand out the recipe printed on a card and sell all of the ingredients in that dish for just $5. Our group of over 20 volunteers just completed their training and are ready to hit the markets with easy weeknight recipes to share!

“The recipe bundles were a huge success last year and we can’t wait to see how well it goes this year,” Roberta remarked. “We loved seeing this become part of people’s’ weekly routines!”

All of this awaits at the 2018 Fresh2You Mobile Market season. Check out our schedule to find the closest location to you — the truck is out and about five days a week, so come on out to enjoy the bounty of the season!

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

Photos: Chester County Food Bank

EatFresh a Success! Looking Into 2018

The end of the year is always a great time for reflection — a time to look back on the successes and struggles across the calendar and make plans for the year ahead. As 2017 draws to a close, here at the Chester County Food Bank, we’re taking time to consider the progress of our community program, EatFresh.

This educational/hands-on initiative offers cooking and nutrition classes for youth and adults who are at risk of food insecurity. Over the course of six weeks, participants learn and practice cooking skills, as well as how to select healthy recipes and get their hands on fresh produce, whole grains and other healthy staples. At the end of each class, participants can take home the fresh produce from the session to continue the healthy eating at home!

The goal: By regularly working closely with nutritious ingredients and trying out different cooking techniques, participants will be less wary of trying new things and more likely to integrate healthy cooking and eating choices into everyday life.

In 2017, EatFresh classes were offered at La Comunidad Hispana (LCH) in Kennett Square, as well as ChesPenn Health Services in Coatesville. For the 2017 season, Catie Hargraves, CCFB’s food security initiatives program associate, taught the LCH beginner and advanced classes, and Heather Leach, a community member who assists with both our EatFresh and Fresh2You programs, taught both sessions at ChesPenn. The classes were offered in a bilingual fashion, with English and Spanish recipes and handouts provided for participants at both locations.

At the end of each of our six-week EatFresh sessions, we surveyed the participants to see if the progress we see among them each week translates to tangible changes outside of the classroom. It’s always exciting to see significant results from these surveys, especially as we’re wrapping up the year and preparing for next year. One participant at ChesPenn said, “I had a personal goal to change my eating habits for health reason, and EatFresh helped me to meet that goal this year.” Check out some of the recent results and see the success for yourself!

Our post survey showed:

  • 95 percent of EatFresh participants tried a new fruit or vegetable through their class experience.
  • After the EatFresh classes, 20 percent more participants said they always think about healthy food choices when deciding what to feed their families.
  • EatFresh classes resulted in a 17 percent increase in participant confidence when it came to helping their families eat healthier.
  • There was a 13 percent increase in participants adjusting the recipes they make at home to include more fruits and veggies.
  • When focus group participants responded to a question asking for suggestions to improve the program, all responses included a call for classes to be held more often!

 

As we look to 2018, we hope to add more classes and keep spreading the joys of healthy food and nutritious home cooking to more children and adults!

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

Emily Kovach

September is Hunger Action Month: 14 Ways to Get Involved

September is a month of change and renewal: School is back in session and vacation is over. As the oppressive heat of summer dissipates, we’re reenergized and reactivated. It’s the perfect time to take stock and press forward with projects and passions. So, while the Chester County Food Bank works 12 months a year to address and combat food insecurity in our community, we focus even more intently in September, which is Hunger Action Month.

Hunger Action Month is a wide-reaching initiative from Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, which started in 1979 and connects sources of surplus food to hundreds of food banks. In 2016, Chester County Food Bank and Philabundance developed a partnership to expand food distribution in Chester County, an area which both food banks serve. To date, this partnership has put more and varied food into the hands of those who need it by allowing the two food banks to share their resources and become more efficient.

In September people all over America will stand together with Feeding America and the nationwide network of food banks to fight hunger. Do you feel inspired to get involved with Hunger Action Month? Here are 14 ways to help fight food insecurity and hunger in your community:

  1. Shop the Fresh2You Mobile Market: Chester County Food Bank’s market-on-wheels brings fresh, nutritious food to neighborhoods throughout our region. While the mission of the Fresh2You Mobile Market is to connect low-income families with the bounty of Chester County, the market is open to all! Check out the Fresh2You schedule and come do some of your weekly shopping with us! Your dollars help to support our mission.
  2. Sign up to volunteer with CCFB: We rely on volunteers for so much, and are deeply appreciative of all the energy and enthusiasm our volunteers bring to the table. In September, after students return to school, we always face a particular need for volunteers at our farm sites. If you’re able to donate a few hours to working at Pete’s Produce Farm or Springton Manor Farm, please view our online calendar and sign up. Harvest season is an extra fun time to work on the farm! To stay committed, be an early bird! Start your week off right by signing up for one of our Monday or Tuesday 7–8:30 a.m. volunteer opportunities at a farm.
  3. Know the local pantries: A great—and easy—way to participate in Hunger Action Month is simply to check out where the food pantries in your area are located. Whether for your own benefit, or perhaps to act as a resource to a friend, colleague or neighbor, simply knowing where local help for the hungry is counts as taking action.
  4. Contact the Food Bank to request a speaker for your company, church or community organization: Help us to amplify our mission by inviting someone from our organization to speak to yours. A knowledgeable staff member will discuss the realities of hunger in Chester County, our work to provide food access to those struggling with food insecurity and how you can get involved to help those in need in our community.
  5. Sign up for the Food Bank’s newsletter: Here’s another great way to get involved that only takes a moment! Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest from CCFB in your email inbox.
  6. Take the SNAP Challenge: Can you eat on $4 a day? That is what is expected of many people receiving SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) through the state. See how far you can stretch $4 to feed your family for a whole day at your local market or discount grocery store. Understanding that significant challenge can help to boost empathy and give insight to the very real daily struggles of some of our neighbors.
  7. Organize a Tuna Tuesday food drive at your office/school/church: Harness the energy of the people around you by spearheading a food drive wherever you find community. We’ve found that themed drives are often successful, and “Tuna Tuesday” is an especially good once, since canned tuna is so nutrient-dense—a perfectly shelf-stable protein source that kids and adults love. Another great theme is a “spaghetti dinner” food drive. Collect pasta, canned sauce, canned tomatoes and spices like garlic powder and oregano in plastic jars.
  8. Brown-bag your lunch and donate what you would spend on lunch to the Food Bank: Even the thriftiest lunch out adds up. So whether you’d normally spend $3 or $13 buying lunch at a convenience store or cafe, kick it old school with a brown-bag lunch as many days each week as possible. Add up what you saved and donate to the CCFB! Our purchasing power allows us to stretch your dollar in amazing ways.
  9. Dig up change to make a change: Collect loose change at home or around office and donate at end of the month to the Food Bank. This is a great exercise in seeing how small contributions can really add up. A quarter here, a few dimes there, and before you know it, you’ll have a sizable donation to help us further our mission.
  10. Check if your employer offers a charitable match: Double the impact of your gift by having your employer match your donation to CCFB. Many more companies offer this benefit than you may think, so be sure to inquire with your supervisor or human resources department to see if matching gifts are available to you.
  11. Attend the Brandywine Valley Evening Water Garden on September 30. This is the final garden tour for the season that all benefit the Chester County Food Bank. The tour features an eclectic array of water features that encourage visitors to wander around waterfalls, fountains and lush landscaping all with the added beauty of outdoor and underwater lights. Guests of the Evening Water Garden Tour will be transported via bus from property to spectacular property and enjoy an alfresco progressive dinner and dessert.
  12. Shop Amazon Smile: We know how indispensable shopping on Amazon.com is for many families. When you shop, go through the Smile.Amazon.com portal and select Chester County Food Bank as your preferred charity. Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to us! AmazonSmile offers the same pricing, shipping and services as the regular Amazon.com.
  13. Work out and give back at acac with their 30 days for $30 campaign. Just $1 a day supports the Food Bank with 100% of donations benefiting the Food Bank. Memberships must be purchased and activated by September 30, 2017.
  14. Color some kindness: Sometimes, it’s the little things. Sign up to decorate boxes for our senior food box program. It’s a fun activity that gets the whole family involved, especially kids who aren’t old enough to volunteer yet! Boxes can be picked up by request from our facility (depending on availability. maximum 50 boxes). Please contact food@chestercountyfoodbank.org if you are interested in this activity.

We hope at least one of these suggestions gives you a useful, doable way to be part of Hunger Action Month this September!

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, healthful food.

Emily Kovach

Photos, top to bottom: Chester County Food Bank; Ed Williams; Nathan Greenwood; Chester County Food Bank

Meet the Community Partner: The Clinic

Situated in a big, beautiful Victorian-style house in Phoenixville, in the former rectory of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, is The Clinic. Founded in 2001, this community-based health care center has provided comprehensive medical care to patients regardless of their ability to pay. The Clinic was founded by Dr. Lorna B. Stuart and the Rev. Marie Z. Swayze with funds from a generous anonymous donor, as well as more than $300,000 raised through contributions from the larger community.

The Clinic opened in 2002, and since then has been passionately pursuing its mission of serving a population who fall through the cracks of human and social services, including those who don’t qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. Many of its patients’ incomes are within 150 percent to 200 percent of federal poverty level guidelines. By the end of 2013, just over 10 years since The Clinic was founded, the largely volunteer staff of doctors and nurses has provided medical care to the community equaling more than 100,000 patient visits.

In addition to routine health care services and screenings, The Clinic offers laboratory services, pharmacy services, specialty care and an abundance of resources such as healthy lifestyle classes and the Girls In Medicine program.

We are proud to call The Clinic a partner in one of Chester County Food Bank’s newest projects, the Fresh2You Fruit & Vegetable Prescription (FVRx) Program. Thanks to the work of volunteers and staff like Dr. Ana Negrón and Cindy Clark, The Clinic’s pharmacy assistance program coordinator, we were able to debut this pilot program this summer for some of the patients at The Clinic who are most threatened by food insecurity. Essentially, this program allows medical staff at The Clinic to prescribe Veggie Bucks to patients that can then be used to purchase fruits and vegetables at the Fresh2You Mobile Market, which parks outside of The Clinic on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The prescription is renewed each week the participant shops at the market.

The FVRx Program began with a simple observation by Dr. Negrón, one of The Clinic’s regular volunteer providers. Seeing how difficult it was for some of her patients to access nutritious food, including fresh fruits and veggies, on a regular basis, she began to develop a “Healthy Prescription” program. She mentioned the program in a discussion with Roberta Cosentino, the Fresh2You Mobile market manager, back in January, and the idea evolved from there. Working as a partnership, we fleshed out the full concept of FVRx, and with the input and help of the staff at The Clinic, were able to implement the program this summer.

When asked how The Clinic’s patients have been responding so far, Cindy reports that it’s been overwhelmingly positive. “The Clinic enrolled more than 60 patients and their family members during May and June,” she said. “It appears that many are participating based on the activity at the Fresh2You Mobile Market. People can be seen leaving the market with bags overflowing with fresh fruits and vegetables.” Sounds like the start of a successful healthy eating initiative to us!

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.

Emily Kovach

First two photos: Chester County Food Bank; other photos, top to bottom: Jonathan Winberg, Mark Psoras

A Healthy Dose: Introducing the Fresh2You Fruit & Vegetable Prescription (FVRx) Program

They say laughter is the best medicine, but at the Chester County Food Bank, we believe nutritious food is a close contender. Fresh produce does a world of good for bodies young and old, but not everyone has access to fruits and vegetables. Our Fresh2You Mobile Market, which opened for the season on June 13, seeks to address that issue by bringing a produce-market-on-wheels to various locations throughout Chester County. We’ve seen a lot of success from this program (which is generously supported by QVC) and have gotten lots of positive feedback from residents in various neighborhoods who otherwise find it difficult to locate and purchase affordable fresh produce.

This year, we’re taking this idea a step further with our pilot Fresh2You Fruit & Vegetable Prescription (FVRx) program. This innovative initiative is in partnership with The Clinic in Phoenixville, a nonprofit health care facility whose mission is to “provide quality health care to the uninsured in an atmosphere which fosters dignity and respect for our patients.” FVRx is partially funded through a grant provided by the Chester County Health Department, and also in part by the Chester County Food Bank.

The goal of the FVRx Program is to address the adverse effects that food insecurity has on health. The program will do this by offering doctors and their patients the opportunity to discuss nutrition, and give patients the tools necessary to establish great dietary habits and practices. We are aiming to increase access to and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables for patients of The Clinic, and to improve the overall well-being and food security of program participants.

At present, The Clinic has enrolled about 75 patients into the program; each participant is given a real “prescription” for Veggie Bucks, which are vouchers that can then be used to purchase fruits and vegetables at the Fresh2You Mobile Market, which parks outside of The Clinic on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The prescription is renewed each week the participant shops at the market.

Because we know that knowledge is power, and that not everyone knows what to do with a head of cauliflower or a bunch of mustard greens, the Fresh2You staff, including a number of volunteers, holds interactive recipe demonstrations at each market location including The Clinic. Every week, a new recipe is featured to highlight a seasonal vegetable. Volunteers cook and offer samples of the recipe at the market, and customers (including all FVRx participant shoppers) are welcome to take the recipe home. At the market, we sell the ingredients in a handy “Recipe Bundle” for just $5.

If you’re a patient at The Clinic, be sure to ask your care provider about enrolling in the FVRx program. To find out where the Fresh2You Mobile Market will be this summer, take a look at our weekly schedule. We hope to keep the residents of Chester County eating great seasonal produce all summer long!

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.

Emily Kovach

Photos: Chester County Food Bank

What Is Food Insecurity?

A fully stocked fridge after a trip to the grocery store; a farmer’s market bag stuffed with leafy greens and plump tomatoes; a fruit bowl, spilling over with sweet, ripening fruit: the sensation of abundance is a basic human pleasure. But for so many of our neighbors—more than 50,000 in fact, including 18,000-plus children—this is a feeling they rarely enjoy.

Instead of food wealth, their experience is food insecurity. At Chester County Food Bank, we broadly define food insecurity as “a household that is without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable and nutritious food at any given time.” Though Chester County is the wealthiest county in Pennsylvania, this remains a serious issue for many of our residents.

Food insecurity lies at the heart of CCFB’s mission to mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthy food. There are numerous reasons why a family may experience food insecurity, either for a few tight months or for years at a time. This situation may be related to unexpected unemployment, a sudden health crisis or disability, or simply a struggle to make ends meet. As of the 2015 American Community Survey, Chester County has 7.1 percent of the population living below the federal poverty level, or approximately 35,000 people. Each family’s complex scenario is the driving force behind our diverse programs.

From Meals on Wheels meal preparation and distribution for seniors on fixed incomes, to our Summer Food Boxes that help bridge the gap for children who rely on free or reduced-price school meals to our Fresh2You Mobile Market, which brings affordable produce to areas where fresh food is scarce, each one of our programs is aimed at solving food insecurity in Chester County.

With the help of our amazing volunteers, committed Community Partners, supportive staff and generous donors, every day brings us one step closer to ensuring that no one in our communities lives with the uneasiness or fear of not knowing where their next meal is coming from.

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.

Emily Kovach

Photos: Ed Williams

It’s Back! Fresh2You Mobile Market Hits the Road June 13

What has four wheels, is staffed by friendly faces, is loaded up with delicious things to eat and makes the rounds through Chester County communities all summer (and, into fall)? If you thought an ice cream truck, think again—it’s the Chester County Food Bank’s Fresh2You Mobile Market! This cheerfully painted produce market on wheels, generously sponsored by QVC, hits the road June 13 and rolls throughout the county through November. Tuesday, June 13 is opening market day at the Chester County Family Academy (next to the West Chester Senior Center), and the first Saturday market at the Coatesville Library on June 17 will surely be an exciting and busy day as well!

The coolest thing about the Fresh2You Mobile Market is that it can stop at places where fresh fruits, veggies and healthy locally made staples can be hard to find. The mission of the mobile market is to connect lower-income communities to the fresh produce grown in our region, and to make high-quality food affordable to the whole community while paying farmers fairly for their labor and products.

During the first few weeks of the truck’s schedule, our shelves will be brimming with beautiful seasonal produce, such as a variety of greens like kale and lettuce, slender spring onions, crunchy carrots and sweet tart berries. This year, we’re also offering tasty and nutritious pantry staples: Swarmbustin’ Honey from West Grove, organic and local eggs, a wide variety of dried beans and grains, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and Fresh2You’s special herb blends.

Our 2017 schedule is packed five days each week (Tuesday – Saturday) with stops at various locations including churches, libraries and YMCAs. In addition to setting up shop on a regular basis, our staff and volunteers will frequently hold Taste It! demonstrations to introduce shoppers to ingredients and share creative recipes.

Here’s the full schedule:

Everyone is welcome to shop at Fresh2You Mobile Market, and we accept all forms of payment: cash, credit and debit cards, SNAP/EBT (food stamps), and WIC and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) vouchers. This year, we’re offering a wonderful program that provides a dollar-for-dollar match on all fruit and vegetable purchases made with SNAP and FMNP vouchers. Most matching dollar programs throughout the country only match SNAP purchases, but this year we are also able to match FMNP purchases. We are excited to offer our WIC and Senior FMNP shoppers this additional benefit.

To keep up with the Fresh2You Mobile Market, follow the truck’s team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Want to learn more? 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 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