KENNETT SQUARE — Kennett Area Community Service, home to the Kennett Food Cupboard, will soon have a new home thanks to a family known for its contributions to the mushroom industry.
Mike and Nancy Pia of Kennett Square donated about six acres of land they own on Cypress Street which straddles New Garden and Kennett townships. In addition, they plan to continue making financial contributions to help the food cupboard a new home it sorely needs.
"We had the property so we thought it would be a great use for the land and a good location for them to give them a permanent home, where they can grow in the future," Mike Pia said. "We knew they were looking for a permanent home and room to expand. They are a great organization and we are grateful we got the opportunity to help."
Following a devastating fire and a flood recently at the building located at 138 West Cedar Street, the Kennett Food Cupboard has had to make changes in the way it operates. It has had to store some of its food offsite and had to lease two trailers to help provide office space for caseworkers. Worse, there is no access for the homeless to shower or wash their clothes.
"We are excited that this generous gift has been offered as a solution to KACS's need for a permanent home for the future," said Leah Reynolds, KACS executive director. "Despite the challenges this past year has created for organizations, this nonprofit has continued to meet the ever-increasing need for help."
KACS has been an invaluable resource to the community, especially during the pandemic when it saw unprecedented demand for its services.
Last year, KACS has had over 17,000 visits to the food cupboard. Its emergency assistance team has helped more than 516 unduplicated families with case management and many others with crisis services. KACS has paid out $679,710 in emergency assistance. It has seen housing emergencies result from layoffs, temporary school and business closures, positive COVID tests, hospitalizations, and household quarantines due to a family member testing positive or dying from COVID.
And KACS has stably re-housed 35 households from homelessness or imminent homelessness last year.
The new location, Reynolds said, is ideal because is is walkable to many in Kennett Square and close to Avondale and West Grove.
"Our emphasis is on trying to help this organization because they do such work," said Mike Pia, a long-time KACS supporter, who was in constant contact with the organization last year during the pandemic. "Now, the work begins as KACS decides to build on the site, and getting the land development process going."
Pia owns South Mill Champs mushroom organization in Kennett Square, the third largest mushroom producer in the country. His wife Nancy is a former educator and artist.
Nearly two decades ago, the Pias set up the Michael and Nancy Pia Foundation for their charitable giving.
KACS is accepting food donations at 600 South Broad Street in Kennett Square every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
KACS services the Kennett Consolidated, Avon Grove and Unionville Chadds-Ford school districts for households whose incomes are at or below the Federal Poverty Level.