Fresh Connect Partner Spotlight – Bucks County Opportunity Council
November 8th, 2017
Bucks County Opportunity Council (BCOC) plays an integral role in Fresh Connect–a free farmer’s market that brings fresh, healthy food to our hungry neighbors in Bucks County. Fresh Connect returns to the same location on the same day at the same time each week, providing reliable and needed food to the 57,000 Bucks County residents facing hunger, 32% of whom are children. With funding provided by United Way of Bucks County, Fresh Connect is a collaboration of Bucks County Opportunity Council, Philabundance, Rolling Harvest Food Rescue and St. Mary Medical Center.
Bucks County Opportunity Council’s mission is to reduce poverty and to promote economic self-sufficiency. They help people overcome barriers as they work towards financial independence. BCOC provides counseling and financial assistance; they move homeless individuals and families into permanent safe housing; they prevent eviction and utility shutoff; they help people in their time of need. They also manage 27 food distribution sites throughout Bucks County made up of local food pantries and they provide free tax preparation for moderate and low-income people.
Their services are based on the principle that empowering people with the education, training, resources, and skills necessary to permanently leave poverty is far more beneficial than helping them cope with poverty. They work closely with human services organizations, faith-based organizations, and others to address local needs and issues affecting low-income individuals and families. www.bcoc.org.
Heather Foor, Food Program Manager at BCOC explained, “The Fresh Connect program is providing healthy choices for our residents in need. Many of those attending each week are people who fall in the meal gap, they make too much to qualify for federal food assistance, but they make too little to get by. I hear over and over again that people attending each week are feeling better from eating these healthy foods because they were bypassing them altogether before this program was available.”
The team at BCOC is responsible for many aspects of this program. From planning and implementing all of the logistics to coordinating and organizing groups of dedicated volunteers to distribute food each week. They also track and collect all of the data that is used from participants in the program including surveys and demographic information.
Without the team at BCOC, Fresh Connect wouldn’t be possible. They work hard every single day to ensure that this program happens each week. BCOC makes sure that it happens seamlessly and that the experience is meaningful and pleasant for both the volunteers and recipients.