Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger

Founded in 1996, the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger strives to build a community where all people have the food they need to lead healthy lives. The Coalition connects people with food assistance programs and nutrition education; provides resources to a network of food pantries; and educates the public and policymakers about responsible solutions that prevent people from going hungry.
Oct 2, 2013

Back to school, after a great summer

Summer Meals for Kids in North Philadelphia
Summer Meals for Kids in North Philadelphia

It’s hard to believe that summer is already over. But thanks to supporters like you, thousands of students in the Philadelphia region went back to school last month, nourished and ready to learn.

From June through August, the Coalition Against Hunger connected more than 3,400 children in our city with free summer meals, ensuring no kid went hungry while school was out.

There were over 1,000 parks, churches, recreation centers and other community sites that offered free summer meals to children throughout the city. Despite this availability, we found that more than half of low-income students in Philadelphia were still missing out on those critical summer meals.

That’s why the Coalition works hard every summer to get the word out to families across the city who could benefit from this important nutrition program. This summer, we operated the toll-free Philly Summer Meals Hotline and text messaging service, so families could find their nearest sites.

We also partnered with community organizations, neighborhood food pantries, places of worship, libraries, health centers and more, enlisting their help to spread the word about free summer meals for kids.

By summer’s end, we had helped more than 3,400 children get free summer meals in Philadelphia, ensuring they had the nutrition they needed while school was out.

We couldn’t have done this work without the support of dedicated individuals like you.

Thank you for your help in making this summer a good one for more kids in our city, and we look forward to staying in touch throughout the year.

Jul 2, 2013

A new kind of food pantry in Philadelphia

Nutrition staff Tanya Sen and Leah Gable
Nutrition staff Tanya Sen and Leah Gable

Some staggering facts:

  • Last year, nearly half a million people in Philadelphia turned to food pantries for help.
  • At the same time, the overwhelming majority of them (70 percent) had household members with chronic disease, such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and high cholesterol. 

With numbers like these, we know it's no longer enough to provide food to hungry families. We must ensure that these families have nutritious food that improves their overall health, instead of just filling their bellies.

That's why last month, the Coalition Against Hunger opened a first-of-its kind food pantry in the city. Unlike most food pantries, this new program will provide only highly nutritious, quality foods to clients. We call the program our "Green Light Pantry.”

Here, we provide families with only foods that can be categorized as “Green Light Foods” under a system that ranks foods based on their Nutritional Facts labels and USDA Dietary Guidelines.

Families are also allowed to choose their own food. Among the selection: Whole-wheat pasta and cereals; low-fat milk and yogurt; fresh fruits and vegetables; and lean proteins, such as canned salmon, frozen chicken, fresh eggs, and beans with no salt added. Items that you might typically find at other food pantries—mac and cheese, for instance, or canned soups that are high in sodium—will not be carried.

Clients also attend nutrition classes every month and receive free health screenings and assistance in applying for SNAP (food stamps), school meals and other programs that can help their families afford to make healthier food choices. 

Our first Green Light Pantry opened in the Kensington section of Northeast Philadelphia this spring, and we've already seen some results.

“The Green Light Pantry gives me access to healthy and fresh grown food—things that I wouldn’t think of buying myself,” says one pantry client, Nasheeda, who has a 1-year-old son. “I now have the opportunity to change my diet and have learned how to make healthier meals.” 

We think it's a good start. Next up? A second Green Light Pantry in North Philadelphia, scheduled to open this fall.

Thank you, as always, for your support.

Whole grains
Whole grains
Produce can be hard to find in low-income areas.
Produce can be hard to find in low-income areas.
Fresh fruit
Fresh fruit

Links:

Mar 26, 2013

What does hunger look like in my community?

View our interactive map: www.hungerreportpa.com
View our interactive map: www.hungerreportpa.com

Nearly 1.6 million. That’s the number of people in Pennsylvania who struggle to put food on the table every year.

More precisely, that figure represents the 1 in 8 residents considered to be “food insecure.” That means they don’t always have access to the food they need for an active, healthy life, according to the USDA..

Who is affected by food insecurity in Pennsylvania? What resources are available to people living with it? Most importantly, what more can we do to make sure they get the help that they need?

Last week, we released a report that aimed to answer these questions. The report, “State of Hunger: Pennsylvania 2013,” features an interactive map that, for the first time, makes data available on the number of residents who receive food assistance in all 67 counties.

Hunger exists in communities across Pennsylvania, though it’s easy to overlook. You probably wouldn’t know that a co-worker often goes home to an empty refrigerator. Or that the boy in your child’s class can’t concentrate because he hasn’t had breakfast. Or that the cashier at your grocery store worries about being able to pay for enough food for his own family.

“The report paints a vivid picture of how important programs like SNAP (food stamps) and school meals are to every community in Pennsylvania,” says Julie Zaebst, the Coalition's interim executive director. "But it also reminds us that far too many people who struggle with hunger aren’t participating in these vital programs. As a state, we must ensure more residents get the help they need."

Thanks to supporters like you, the Coalition has helped more than 50,000 families apply for SNAP and other food assistance programs over the past decade. We're also able to support more than 100 food pantries and soup kitchens, so they can serve more low-income families and seniors in neighborhoods across the Philadelphia region.

And we work with community members to raise awareness about ways we can all fight hunger in our backyard.

This report is one way that everyday citizens can get involved.

Visit www.hungerreportpa.com to:

  • View our interactive map to see how many people rely on food assistance in each county. 
  • Download the report and county fact sheets to educate your community about hunger.
  • Use our online tools to contact elected officials in Pennsylvania.

Hunger is an overwhelming issue, but it’s a solvable one. In a country as wealthy as the United States, we have plenty of food to nourish every resident.

We hope this report offers you more insight into the challenges we face in ending hunger and what more we can all do to make it a reality.

Thank you, as always, for your support. 

School meals are vital to many low-income children
School meals are vital to many low-income children
More than 1 in 8 PA residents are food insecure.
More than 1 in 8 PA residents are food insecure.

Links:

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