Staff, volunteers prepare for Thanksgiving holiday; donations accepted daily
By Suzanne Misciagna, Staff Writer, The Times
KENNETT — Tucked away on a quiet street in downtown Kennett Square, the Kennett Food Cupboard is making a huge impact on stamping out hunger and preventing homelessness in our community.
With National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (November 16-24) upon us, the Kennett Food Cupboard is making a real difference in the lives of many people in need.
“The Kennett Food Cupboard’s mission is to serve those in need through feeding the hungry and providing emergency financial assistance and homelessness prevention,” says Executive Director Melanie Weiler.
Over 55 years ago the Kennett Food Cupboard began serving those in need as part of the Christmas Basket Program, providing meals to families during the holidays. Today, approximately 1,300 individuals in need who reside in the Kennett Consolidated, Unionville Chadds-Ford, and Avon Grove School Districts, are fed each month. Over the course of a year, over 675 families are served including over 1,000 children in our area.
Staffed by only 3 employees and over 70 committed volunteers logging an average of 800 hours per month, the Kennett Food Cupboard relies on donations from the community, local businesses, and service organizations to help them serve those in need.
Healthy, prepared food items are always needed such as tomato products (tomato sauces and canned tomatoes), cereal, canned tuna, beans, canned fruit and vegetables, pasta, and soup. Toiletry items may also be donated. Monetary donations are always appreciated as well as gift cards to local grocery stores. The Food Cupboard also accepts certificates for free turkeys offered this time of year in preparation for the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Kennett Food Cupboard is unique in that it offers meat such as turkey, chicken, ham, and ground meat as well as milk and other dairy products. Fresh produce is also available. Those who visit the Food Cupboard also appreciate the donations of baking items such as flour, sugar, and butter.
Food donations are accepted Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be dropped off at the Kennett Food Cupboard at 136 West Cedar Street in Kennett Square.
The Kennett Food Cupboard operates as a “choice” cupboard, allowing individuals to shop for what they need.
“Individuals shop with a Food Cupboard volunteer so they choose the items they want and need,” says Weiler. This helps to minimize waste while also providing us with an opportunity to connect with the individual,” Weiler adds. “It helps us build a relationship with them, finding out if they need assistance in other areas such as emergency financial assistance or dealing with homelessness.”
A Food Cupboard Case Manager is available to help those who are experiencing a financial hardship such as unemployment due to a layoff or health issue. “Our goal is to provide sustainability during these difficult times by providing rental assistance or paying utility bills,” says Weiler. “If a family is experiencing homelessness, we will work with them to find housing as well,” she adds.
The Food Cupboard doors are open to those in need on Mondays from 12 noon to 3 p.m., Wednesdays from 12 noon to 6 p.m., and Fridays from 12 noon to 3 p.m.
The Kennett Food Cupboard is always in need of donations and volunteers year round, but particularly as the holidays approach.
With Thanksgiving only a week away, the rush is on to provide between 650 and 700 turkeys to those in need this Thanksgiving holiday.
At Christmas time, an average of 600 to 700 families will be served by over 200 volunteers at the New Garden Township Maintenance Garage in Avondale, Pennsylvania. A holiday meal will be distributed along with warm coats for the winter season, toys for needy children including bikes and helmets, and over 1,200 new children’s books. Each family in need will receive a timed ticket to receive their donations. Many of these items were generously donated by local schools and churches to make the holidays a little brighter for those in need.
For more information on donating food to the Kennett Food Cupboard, volunteering, or information on receiving Food Cupboard services, call 610-925-3556 or visit www.KACSonline.net. The Kennett Food Cupboard is located at 136 West Cedar Street in downtown Kennett Square.