Occasionally Yours – Catering and Eatery in Swarthmore provided 40 lunches today, with a choice of chicken, egg, ham or tuna salad sandwich, pasta salad and dessert. Scott brings the delish takeouts every Wednesday, as 25 percent of the revenue from the caterer’s First Friday menu goes toward its meal donation campaign helping Chester Eastside, Inc., Making A Change Group and local families. Many thanks, Scott and Theresa. #occasionallyours #caterer #lunch #foodinsecurity #thanksomuch #chestereastside
We were fortunate this week to be among the recipients of a grant from the The Foundation for Delaware County COVID-19 Response Fund. The $7,000 will be used to purchase food and essential items to maintain service delivery for our pantry. Many thanks! #foundationfordelawarecounty #covid19responsefund #foodinsecurity #thankyou #chestereastside
Many thanks to the City of Chester News and Information and Aqua and its foundation for the $20,000 donation to our food bank. We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of residents needing our help amid the coronavirus outbreak and appreciate their contribution. #cityofchester #aquapennsylvania #coronavirus #covid19 #foodbank #thankyou #chestereastside
Rev. Zuline will be among the guests this morning (Thurs., April 23) on Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane for Philadelphia’s NPR affiliate, WHYY. She will talk about the increased need for feeding the community in the time of coronavirus and what the situation is like in Delaware County. Be sure to listen/call in from 10-10:30 a.m. https://whyy.org/episodes/food-insecurity-rises-amid-the-pandemic/ #foodinsecurity #feedingthecommunity #coronavirus #covid19 #radiotimes #martymosscoane #chestereastside
Chester Eastside continues to battle food insecurity
CHESTER – For the last month, coronavirus has seemingly been the only topic on most people’s lips.
To those struggling with the source of their next meal, however, it is just one more difficulty of the many they face every day.
While some food pantries throughout Delaware County are experiencing temporary closures, Chester Eastside Inc. has remained open 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Monday and Wednesday, to serve city residents. Food insecurity was an issue before COVID-19, and will continue to be one during and after the pandemic, and the agency is helping to meet their needs.
“We do not have plans to alter the schedule since DIFAN (Delaware County Interfaith Food Assistance Network) has a staggered schedule of open pantries in Chester and the county,” said CEI Executive Director Rev. Zuline Wilkinson. “We will continue to serve the hungry in our city.”
CEI’s food pantry saw a 150% increase in new clients in March, an iincrease from 39 to 98 individuals and families requesting emergency food assistance. At each visit, participants are offered enough bagged food to provide each family member with three meals a day for five days.
The agency has been adhering to all CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines. Its skeleton crew of volunteers has been pre-bagging all items, frequently sanitizing the common area and limiting access to the building.
“We must handle crowds in this manner for everyone’s protection,” said pantry manager Norman Jordan.
CEI has curtailed its congregate meals, where it typically serves hot lunches supplemented with food from local retirement communities, restaurants and convenience stores, and is instead offering “to-go” snack bags with sandwiches and nutritious munchies for families and homeless persons.
While CEI does not know how many of the 39 children (26 families) in its Phoenix After School program are eligible for the national school lunch program, it knows their parents comprise the “working poor” and has been providing meals for their families as well.
“People need food and we are doing our best to ensure a healthy diet for as many people as we can accommodate.” said Wilkinson.
DIFAN collaborates with Family and Community Service of Delaware County (FCSDC), which received approval from the USDA to use all streams of its emergency assistance program as components of the Disaster Household Distribution. Through April 26, CEI and similar agencies will no longer need to collect self-declaration of need forms to distribute food through the federal or state programs. Should the crisis last beyond that date, FCSDC will request an extension from USDA, said Executive Director Ron Powers.
“We are pleased that the guidelines have been relaxed,” said Wilkinson. “We believe this will expedite traffic in our pantry.”
Coronavirus is a crisis confronting families who already face many challenges and CEI cannot imagine responding to their needs in any other way. That reaction, however, has put a strain on the agency. The economic downturn associated with the pandemic resulted in a 61-percent decrease in donations in the first quarter of 2020, a figure not expected to self-correct in the next three months.
“Contributions to Chester Eastside are appreciated, especially now,” said Wilkinson.
Effective through April 26, Chester Eastside, Inc. and other food pantries throughout Delaware County have received approval from the USDA to use all streams of their emergency assistance program as components of the Disaster Household Distribution. Therefore, the agency will no longer need to collect self-declaration of need forms to distribute food through the federal or state programs to provide assistance to families and individuals who need assistance due to COVID-19.