Chester County Food Bank and Bentley Systems

Interview with Dan Koval, Corporate Initiatives Manager; Bentley Systems & Anne Shuniak, Senior Manager, Marketing & Communications; Chester County Food Bank

The Partners:

Bentley Systems and Chester County Food Bank

Partners since: 2009

How has the partnership evolved over time?

Alongside Chester County Food Bank employees, Bentley System volunteers construct raised garden beds.

The leaders of each organization are long-time colleagues and community philanthropists. When Robert D. McNeil, founding chairman of the Chester County Food Bank, initiated the organization’s first capital campaign, Greg Bentley, CEO  at Bentley Systems, was instrumental in helping secure a building.

Later, when the Food Bank expanded its operations and relocated to the Eagleview Corporate Center in Exton, PA, Bentley Systems was further supportive through the capital campaign and by sponsoring and hosting a community open house for their new neighbor.

The relationship between the Chester County Food Bank and Bentley Systems continued to evolve and expand.  In 2014, Bentley Systems installed raised garden beds at their headquarters to grow vegetables as part of the Food Bank’s Farm and Garden program. Today, Bentley remains one of nearly 100 garden partners that collectively contribute nearly 30,000 pounds of produce.

Being neighbors has strengthened the relationship between the two organizations.  In recent years, Bentley Systems has also hosted and sponsored the Food Bank’s quarterly food provider meetings and Bentley Systems employees have enjoyed lunch at the Food Bank’s FRESHstart Café – a workforce development program affording students hand-on restaurant experience.

What do you feel is an innovative feature of the partnership?

Being neighbors! We have been able to provide unique opportunities and support for each other in new and exciting ways thanks to our proximity.  When a fire rendered the Bentley Systems building unusable, the Food Bank eagerly offered use of their conference and meeting rooms for Bentley colleagues to meet with their Little Brothers and Little Sisters as part of the Big Brother Big Sister Beyond School Walls program.

For Bentley Systems, the partnership synergistic on many levels. We have colleagues that will walk over to volunteer or take part in the café. We use the raised garden beds as an “excuse” to get outside and get some fresh air! We know the staff at the Food Bank, and they know us. We welcome them to come enjoy some hot coffee (or tea) whenever they want in our cafeteria. It is such a wonderful partnership that we are excited to continue it and have it grow (pun completely intended!)

Share a recent success story with employee volunteerism

In 2021, Bentley granted the Chester County Food Bank $150,000 and asked for the funds to be used for a community match challenge.  The inaugural Sustaining Community $150,000 Grant Challenge matched the first $150,000 in donations made to the Chester County Food Bank between November 1  and December 31, 2021.  The challenge was successful, with Bentley Systems matching 450 contributions helping to raise $367,746.

That grant and subsequent challenge donations will enable the Chester County Food Bank to provide more than 140,000 healthy meals to those in need – at a time when pandemic-driven demand created has stretched the food bank’s resources to the limit.

What benefits does corporate/nonprofit partnerships bring to our community?

Bentley believes in the power of community and the need to ensure that the community functions in a healthy manner, which is why we support organizations like the Chester County Food Bank and so many more.  If you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, it becomes very difficult to focus on anything else.  Organizations like the Food Bank fill a critical role in the fabric of the community.

Where would you like to see corporate / nonprofit partnerships evolve?

From the Bentley side, we want to see more corporations get involved at a deeper level. To give money is one thing, to be invested in a nonprofit is something completely different. We are wholly invested in the Chester County Food Bank. We believe in them, we support them, we are here for them – heck, we even gave them toilet paper in the beginning of the pandemic (no one was in the office but the Food Bank was still firing on all cylinders).  We are here to support each other in any way we can. And if we can’t – we find those who can.

Bentley volunteers brave the cold, rain and snow(!) in early April 2022 to help get the garden started by weeding, repairing and planting beets, potatoes and radishes for harvesting.