On Saturday, I had the privilege of joining more than 400 people at the Chester County Food Bank’s Open House. I knew the food bank is an integral part of our community, but I didn’t fully appreciate their impact and just how many mouths they feed.
Despite being a county that is one of the richest in the country, and known for its bounty of farms, hunger still lives in Chester County. The Chester County Food Bank is the county’s central hunger relief hub and works with 120 partner agencies. The Food Bank and its partner food cupboards, hot meal sites, shelter sites, and social service organizations distribute 2.5 million pounds of food each year.
I had the chance to chat with a few of their farmers and community partners on Saturday and learned about some remarkable organizations.
The Meals on Wheels of Chester County delivers healthy meals along with safety checks and friendly visits to homebound residents five days a week regardless of age or income. The Food Bank prepares hot meals for MOWCC to deliver weekly, as well as prepares, freezes, and stores meals to distribute their 21 county chapters.
For the past century, the Salvation Army has provided basic social services and a hot meal to West Chester residents that do not meet government food assistance thresholds. The Chester County Food Bank, local individuals, and businesses stock the Manna from Heaven Food Pantry.
Power can be knocked out in an instant during an emergency, leaving residents unsure what to do next. The Food Bank’s goal is to provide a hot meal, snack, and water for up to a 1,000 people within six hours of receiving a CERT emergency notification.
Sadly, human trafficking — a form of modern-day slavery (labor and/or sexual — is not just a nationwide problem, but a local issue too. The New Day’s case management services bring victims to a safe, undisclosed place, and away from their traffickers. The Food Bank prepares “grab-and-go” bags of food and toiletries to sustain victims and their families while they rebuild their lives.
Nearly 30 percent of homeless youth and 20-30 percent of homeless people are part of the LGBTQ community. The Chester County Food Bank along with OUTWARD.Today and LGBT Equality Alliance have taken steps to reduce food scarcity among all of our neighbors.
The Chester County Food Bank does more than just distribute donated food to cupboards and social services across the county. They provide summer food boxes, emergency response distribution, weekend backpacks, nutritional classes, educational programming. Now, more than ever, it’s so important to support the Chester County Food Bank and its partners.
You can make an impact by:
- Donating: CCFB uses donations to purchase bulk grocery and produce as well as feed their educational programs. Any amount can make a big impact.
- Volunteering: From sorting to packing bags, picking vegetables at partner farms to processing them in the food bank’s kitchen, there are plenty of ways to help fight hunger in Chester County.
- Starting a Raised Bed Garden: Grow a row and donate produce to your local food pantry for the food bank.
- Supporting the Fresh2You Mobile Market: From June to November, the Fresh2You Mobile Market brings fresh produce, healthy staples, and cooking demonstrations to food deserts throughout the county.
- Hosting a Food Drive: Donated food allows the food bank and partner agencies to provide food for anyone that needs it. Food pantries most needed items include pasta and rice, canned fruit and vegetables, canned tuna and chicken, peanut butter, and cereal.
- Taking a Tour: Learn more about the Food Bank’s amazing work by taking a tour of their 36,000 square foot Eagleview warehouse.