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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

Get Involved: 4 Ways You Can Help the Food Bank This Fall

Now that the kids are back at school, the Chester County Food Bank—a local nonprofit organization that collects, grows, purchases, processes, stores and distributes food to over 120 food cupboards and meal sites throughout the county—has some immediate needs so that they can help to feed the hungry in our community. While you may be dreaming of pumpkin spice lattes, there are people in our own neighborhoods who don’t know when they will get their next nutritious meal. Here are a few ways you can help:

Weekday Volunteers

Dedicated students helped out all summer in the kitchen and at area farms. Now that these students are back to school, the Food Bank has many available shifts for weekday volunteers. This is a great opportunity if you’ve been looking to join in and help.

Signing up to volunteer is easy via the online volunteer calendar. Once you create a profile, you can register for the workdays of your choosing.

The Food Bank is also accepting group volunteer requests for shifts now until December. This is a great activity for a church, business or moms’ club to give back to the community. Email volunteer@chestercountyfoodbank.org today with three potential dates, as well as your preferred time and location—kitchen or farm. It’s that simple!

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Weekend Backpack Program

Did you know the Chester County Food Bank has a weekend backpack program for food-insecure students? The program helps children get nutritious and easy-to-prepare food so that they don’t go hungry over the weekend. At the discretion of school officials, food is offered not only to students eligible for free or reduced meals, but also to students who fall within the gap of ineligibility for the school meal subsidy programs.

Volunteers are needed to pack resealable bags with a rotating variety of shelf-stable food items that the Food Bank distributes weekly from October through May to 10 school districts in Chester County, including after-school programs and Head Start sites.

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Back to School Food Drive

Heading back to school is a great time for food drives! Whether through a sports team, an on-campus service organization or a theater performance group, there are so many opportunities to get students involved in the issue of food insecurity. It’s a great time for companies to participate in back to school-themed food drives, too. The most needed items currently are pasta, rice, canned tuna and chicken, cereal, oatmeal and canned fruit and vegetables. Visit the Food Bank’s website for more information on how to host a successful food drive.

Donate

Short on time and can’t volunteer? No problem! The Chester County Food Bank accepts monetary donations to support all of its programs. Your financial contribution helps the Food Bank serve our Chester County neighbors who struggle with hunger and food insecurity. Cash donations support innovative programs to address the root causes of hunger through advocacy and education. Monetary donations also allow Chester County Food Bank to purchase bulk food and fresh produce.

Donating is easy. Contact us via email or phone (610-873-6000) or donate directly online.

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.

The Chester County Food Bank is located at 650 Pennsylvania Dr. in Exton; phone: (610) 873-6000.