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Making it work: Rolling Harvest Food Rescue gets help from Fred Beans staff and partners

When Rolling Harvest Food Rescue’s founder and executive director, Cathy Snyder, received a $25,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to buy a full-sized van for the nonprofit’s food pick-ups and deliveries to local food banks, she thought that was the height of her organization’s incredibly good fortune.

But it was only the start. As those who frequently donate and volunteer know, generosity begets generosity.

Ms. Snyder needed help finding a large, specialized van that would meet some pretty demanding requirements, and she needed to keep it under $25,000. A chance meeting led Snyder to Alan Paryzer, Fred Beans Used Vehicle Buyer.

“My wife Candace had met Cathy at a Chamber of Commerce meeting early last year,” says Alan. “Candace was very impressed with Rolling Harvest Food Rescue, in particular the focus on fresh, healthier food alternatives as opposed to the packaged eternal shelf life food often offered at food shelters. Candace mentioned that Cathy was in need of a vehicle to replace the current van used to pick up and deliver food, and wanted to know if I could help.”

Eventually, Paryzer met with Cathy to learn more about Rolling Harvest’s “old, beat-up Ford Windstar van that not only was unfit for hauling hundreds of pounds of produce but also would not pass inspection without a major outlay of cash.”

“I offered a suggestion as to what I thought would be heavy enough and large enough to accommodate the largest of her loads, that I would deliver within the 20 or so days we had before her inspection ran out, and that would be within her budget. Cathy was excited. So was I.”

Paryzer wasted no time, setting out immediately to locate an almost-new van with under 20,000 miles and all of Rolling Harvest’s requirements. He searched the Internet and contacted rental companies.

“After two weeks I did get one company to agree to sell me a van at below-market pricing after I explained it was intended for a charitable organization’s use to deliver food to the needy. The price though was still a bit high.

“So I contacted a third party who customized interior seating and offered to sell them the rear bench seats in the van, which Rolling Harvest would discard, and used that money to reduce the price of the van. I had already arranged with the Fred Beans Chevrolet store in Doylestown to let Rolling Harvest buy the van at employee pricing.

“Lastly we had the van inspected, serviced and detailed and arranged delivery for Cathy. Judging by her reaction, I think we exceeded Cathy’s expectations.”

Bob Amarant, logistics director at Applegate Organic Meats, and Cathy Snyder, founder and executive director of Rolling Harvest Food Rescue, with the nonprofit’s customized Chevrolet Express 3500 van at Applegate Farms’ packaging plant in Allentown, PA.

Paryzer notes that when Snyder first saw the van she was a bit intimidated by its size. “If it was yellow, it could pass for a small school bus. Since then, however, she has raved about how many times she’s packed it to the rafters.”

Snyder is thrilled with the van, the Beans organization and Paryzer in particular.

“He made the grant money stretch much farther than I thought possible,” she says. “The new van is super-insulated and has two air-conditioners in the body area. This all serves to keep the contents fresh on trips from farms to food pantries. And, it’s beautiful!”

The white Chevrolet Express 3500 now sports Rolling Harvest’s familiar logo, thanks to River Signs of Lambertville’s half-price discount. Look for it tooling around Bucks County starting again in the spring, providing fresh, nutritious food for many in need.

Rolling Harvest Food Rescue and more than 30 weekly hard-working volunteers collect donated produce from local farms and markets as well as area stores and distribute it immediately to the non-profit hunger-relief agencies helping the most needy families in Bucks, Hunterdon and Mercer counties. It also picks up meats, cheeses and other products of local farms – much of it minimally processed and organic – to distribute. Last harvest season, it collected more than 78,000 pounds of donated produce from its partner sources.

For more information on Rolling Harvest Food Rescue, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, please visit www.RollingHarvest.org or find them on Facebook.

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