Tag Archives: fvrx

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.  We listen to what clients are requesting at the pantries. Seniors like low sodium items for health reasons. Families ask for healthier snacks for their kids.  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 distributed 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.

“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,” said Roberta Cosentino, Director of Community Food Access & Education Programs.

Our community food security assessment 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. 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, we want 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 items with simple ingredients and recipes that are for eating every day.

CCFB continues 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 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 insecurity and go beyond hunger 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

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2019 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


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