Located in the heart of Chester, PA, CityTeam is a Christian nonprofit organization providing a wide array of programs to hundreds of families each week. The team serves hot meals seven days a week, and distributes emergency food boxes, fresh fruits and vegetables, diapers, and baby formula. They offer a safe night’s sleep at a shelter, resources for homeless people, youth empowerment programs, resident care for those battling addiction, and much more.
Anna Donahoe is the Outreach Director for CityTeam and praised Philabundance for the nutritious food we’re able to deliver – food, she said, which is key to uniting and engaging the families they serve.
“You just don’t realize how food really is a connector and how much food can bring people together. I know for me, so many traditions are built around a dining room table, so for our families, we want to offer them the same thing,” she said.
Anna’s brother, Dallas Searcy, was a resident many years ago and graduated from CityTeam’s Renew Sober Living program.
“His life was changed because of this place and my life was changed,” Anna shared. “One of the things my brother learned while here is that he loves to work with food, so he went on to culinary school to then come back here and serve in the same community.”
Dallas, now the lead chef at CityTeam’s Hope Café where the daily dinners are served, works alongside his team to help feed neighbors in need in his community.
Anna said the kitchen has become a critical component for the Chester community.
“The food we receive from Philabundance really has allowed us to serve additional people. Our chef is able to prepare healthy meals for the people that live here and also for the public in need, so it’s a beautiful option for them and may be the only healthy meal they receive all day long,” said Anna.
In addition to the daily dinner service, CityTeam welcomes anyone in need of emergency food boxes to visit their site at 634 Sproul Street on Wednesdays 10am to Noon while fresh produce is distributed every Thursday 1:30 to 4pm.
Cindy Kline, CityTeam’s Food Outreach Supervisor, explained that “providing them with something simple such as fresh produce or groceries, whatever burden they may be feeling, we hope to help alleviate just a small fraction of that by making sure they have something on their table for their families. It is so rewarding.”
Cindy added that the distribution of fresh food is so important since many clients simply can’t afford it or are unable to travel to the grocery stores.
“A lot of times they don’t have transportation. Chester is a food desert, so being able to provide them with the fresh produce is very helpful and beneficial to give them that healthy option,” she explained.
This past summer, Philabundance partnered with CityTeam for the Let’s Eat meal kit initiative that aimed to fill the gap of free school meals children do not receive during summer break. The goal is to provide families with access to fresh produce and shelf-stable products to make 16 unique, nutritious, culturally-relevant recipes that allow families to cook and eat together.
Richona McKnight, Development Director for CityTeam, said the families were thrilled about the program.
“We had rave reviews from our guests who were excited about these recipes and this fresh produce. We were able to bring some of these meals over to the women and families we’re serving at the Women’s Transitional housing program. It’s really exciting to give these ladies an amazing meal and everything they need to create a delicious and healthy dinner. And they’re also able to learn some more cooking skills by using these recipes,” Richona said. “We love the meals, we appreciate them, and are really glad Philabundance put so much thought and energy into these boxes because it comes across really clearly.”
CityTeam also benefits from our Grocers Against Hunger program, which helps rescue food and provide it to area partners. They’ve received high-quality items from grocers such as Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Wegmans. The clients appreciate these special treats they otherwise couldn’t afford.
Through all of their wonderful programs, CityTeam’s staff continually strives to provide as much assistance to their clients as possible. The people, they say, are there number one priority.
“The reason why I come to work every day is because of the people that we serve. The families that I get to interact with and hear their personal stories and I really get to walk alongside them,“ explained Anna.
Cindy shared her colleague’s sentiments.
“I absolutely love interacting with the clients and just being able to be a light to any dark season they might be in,” she said. “I’m so excited they welcome me into their life and different journeys which makes it just so rewarding. You think it’s something just as simple as just giving fresh produce, but really it’s impacting their lives and being a part of their family in a sense.”
As she dances and smiles with the CityTeam volunteers, Miss Beverly who is both a client and helps out with the food distribution, said it’s her calling to lend a hand.
“We click like family, like I’ve known them forever,” she said.
To learn more about CityTeam, and how you can help, visit cityteam.org/chester.