Every Friday, a volunteer from the Kennett Area Community Service (KACS) drives to Harvest Market to pick up food to donate to the Kennett Food Cupboard. Sometimes, if we have excess perishable goods that can’t wait until Friday, we will make a trip to drop off those items directly in Kennett Square. Not only do we hate wasting food, we can’t stand the idea of our neighbors (or anyone, for that matter) going hungry. In addition to supplying regular food donations to the Kennett Food Cupboard, we are sponsors of KACS’ annual Empty Bowls fundraiser and hold a yearly Period Product Drive. It is our privilege and our honor to assist those in need, and we are so grateful to this outstanding local organization for their efforts in eliminating hunger and eradicating poverty in our community. Harvest Market brings this article to you as part of our year-long series focused on organizations we support as your independent grocer.
Harvest Market: Please tell our readers about the Kennett Area Community Service and the Kennett Food Cupboard.
Kennett Area Community Service: Kennett Area Community Service (KACS) is a place that serves our neighbors with needs primarily around food insecurity and housing instability. Whether the situation is a sudden crisis or long-term poverty, KACS is here to help. We partner with individuals and families on their journey to self-sufficiency and independence. KACS offers not only food assistance at the Food Cupboard but also emergency financial assistance, a re-housing program for families experiencing homelessness, and a zero-interest loan program. Additionally, our Resource Center connects participants to partner agencies and provides laundry and shower facilities for those experiencing homelessness.
Harvest Market: Who qualifies for assistance from the Food Cupboard and how do people access your services?
Kennett Area Community Service: Families who live in the Kennett Consolidated, Avon Grove and Unionville school districts with an income below 350% of the Federal Poverty Level will qualify for food assistance from the food cupboard. Our emergency financial assistance programs are available for families in the three school districts with income level below 200% of FPL. In special circumstances, we can also serve households in the Oxford school district.
Families can access the Food Cupboard by visiting on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday between 12-3pm (also 4-7pm on Wednesdays) to register and select their food. People can “shop” at the cupboard once every 30 days. Emergency food is also provided on a case-by-case basis.
Harvest Market: How many people does KACS serve in our community? Does that number change throughout the year?
Kennett Area Community Service: In 2018 KACS served 785 families in the food cupboard. We also provided emergency assistance case management and/or financial services to 366 households. There is often an increase in our participation during the colder months when money is directed towards heating bills and food becomes a luxury for many families.
Harvest Market: Where does the Kennett Food Cupboard get its food?
Kennett Area Community Service: 85% of the food the KACS provides comes from donations. We are connected to several local grocery stores from which we receive the majority of our fresh food donations (including Harvest Market!). Most canned food comes from food drives held in the local community by groups and individuals. We rely on the community’s abundant generosity to keep our shelves filled throughout the year.
Harvest Market: What are the items you need most but don’t get enough of?
Kennett Area Community Service: Herbs/spices/condiments; basic kitchen staples such as flour/sugar/cooking oil, and feminine products which are expensive. We get lots of canned foods but without seasonings or condiments the food is bland – it’s hard to make a palatable tuna sandwich without mayo!
Harvest Market: What are some ways that our community can further support your work?
Kennett Area Community Service: Donate! Next time you’re at the store grab a few extra groceries to drop off at KACS; organize a food drive within your neighborhood, church or book club; donate money – we buy wholesale! Or donate your time as a volunteer. Attend a community Bridges Out of Poverty workshop to understand the underlying causes of poverty and how we can collectively create a community where everyone can live well. Visit www.kacsonline.net to learn more about volunteering, donating and our work in the community.
Harvest Market: Tell us about the challenges of your work and where you find strength.
Kennett Area Community Service: Some challenges of our work include:
- cuts to federal and state support programs such as SNAP (food stamps) and housing assistance
- maintaining support for the “working poor” who no longer qualify for public benefits but still struggle to make ends meet
- helping the community understand the experiences of folks living in, or near, poverty
We find strength in the community of volunteers and donors who so fiercely support the mission, vision and values of KACS.
Harvest Market: If you could grant one wish to our community, what would it be?
Kennett Area Community Service: A community without poverty where everyone can live well.
Harvest Market: Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
Kennett Area Community Service: We want readers to know how appreciative KACS is for the continued community support. KACS has been providing food and emergency services to the community for over 65 years and we couldn’t do it without YOU! So, on behalf of Kennett Area Community Service and the community we serve, thank you!