Help hungry families afford the food they need

Mar 26, 2013

What does hunger look like in my community?

View our interactive map:
View our interactive map:

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 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.


Dec 14, 2012

Fighting Hunger Block by Block

Nicetown community volunteers
Nicetown community volunteers

If you couldn't afford enough food for your family, where would you go for help?

Every year, more than 6,000 people call our Food Assistance Hotline. Some of them saw a flyer at the unemployment office; others heard our PSAs on the radio. Some were lucky enough to have family or friends to refer them. 

But for every person who calls us, there are many more who need help but have no idea where to find it.  

That’s why we started “Fighting Hunger Block by Block.” The goal: To reach struggling families in Philadelphia’s highest-need areas by raising awareness in their communities about the help that’s available to them. 

In recent months, the Coalition Against Hunger has focused on the Nicetown section of North Philadelphia—an area where more than 1 in 3 residents live in poverty. For a family of four, that means getting by on about $23,000 a year.     

We’ve talked with Nicetown residents and community leaders at town hall meetings, resource fairs and back-to-school nights. We’ve enlisted neighborhood organizations, places of worship, schools, and businesses to join our network and educate the people they serve about resources in their community.

We even went door to door to equip as many people as possible with information on food assistance—including how to apply for SNAP (food stamps), where to find their nearest food pantries, how to enroll their kids in free school meals, and where they could buy affordable produce. 

Every community member needed to know: Help is here if you need it.

What’s more, we wanted the entire neighborhood to play a role in spreading that message, especially to those who needed it most. 

Supporters like you make it possible for us Fight Hunger Block by Block in Philadelphia. And with your help, we’ll continue to work hard to reach every person who needs help putting food on the table in every community.

Thank you, as always, for your support.       

Going door to door in Nicetown
Going door to door in Nicetown
Mother-son volunteer team in Nicetown
Mother-son volunteer team in Nicetown
Philly Eagles encourage students to fight hunger
Philly Eagles encourage students to fight hunger


Sep 13, 2012

Life after the Recession

The Coalition helps 7,000 families every year.
The Coalition helps 7,000 families every year.

As you’ve probably heard, the U.S. Census reported that nearly 1 in 6 Americans--46.2 million people--lived in poverty in 2011.

For an individual, poverty means living on just over $11,000 a year. For a family of four, that figure is less than $23,000 a year.

By now, numbers like these shouldn’t surprise us. Although the recession is over, we know it doesn’t feel that way for millions of Americans. 

That’s where supporters like you have made all the difference.

Your support helps the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger ensure families can afford the food they need while they get back on their feet. Every day, we hear from people stung by the recession—mothers who’ve been out of work for a over a year, fathers scraping by on part-time work, and retired seniors who worry about rising food prices at the grocery store.

With your support, we’ve helped people like husband and wife Don and Michelle Adams and their three teenage boys. Between Don’s job as a part-time mail sorter and Michelle’s as a restaurant cashier, the family earns less than $18,000 a year--well below the poverty threshold for a family of five.

“I realized we needed help when my oldest son came home from school one day, open the fridge, and there was hardly anything there,” Michelle says. “Instead of complaining, he just closed the refrigerator. He didn’t say a word.”

The Coalition helped Michelle’s family apply for food aid through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Every year, we assist nearly 7,000 families in Pennsylvania, connecting them with nutrition programs, food pantries, and other services that can help them make ends meet as our nation's economy continues to improve.

And there is no way we could do it without supporters like you.

Thank you, as always, for your commitment in the fight against hunger.

Jun 8, 2012

No Kid Hungry in Philadelphia this Summer

Summer meals for kids
Summer meals for kids

For many of us growing up, summertime meant warm weather, backyard barbecues and playing outside till the sun went down.

But for thousands of low-income children in Philadelphia, summer can be full of uncertainty about where their next meal will come from.

During the regular school year, these children eat free or reduced-price meals at school. But when school is out, many of them face higher risks of hunger and malnutrition during the summer months.

In fact, only 1 in 7 Pennsylvania kids who receive free or reduced-price lunch get free summer meals. And that’s a statistic we’re working hard to change.

The Coalition Against Hunger wants to ensure no kid goes hungry in Philadelphia this summer.   

Over the next few months, we’re supporting more than 75 sites in Philadelphia that offer free summer meals to kids and teens. These sites are schools, churches, recreation centers and other organizations that will provide kids in their communities with the nutritious food they need to stay healthy all summer.

We’re making sure that these programs not only provide children with wholesome meals and snacks, but also education and activities that teach them about healthy eating and physical fitness.

Next week, we’ll launch a toll-free hotline and free texting service to help families find their nearest sites. And we’re talking to community leaders and organizations, so they can get the word out to their friends and neighbors.

With your help, we can keep kids from going hungry in Philadelphia.

And we will do our best to ensure that summertime for them is as happy and carefree as it was for us.

Thank you, as always, for your support.


Mar 9, 2012

1 in 7,000 Stories

Seven-thousand. That’s the number of calls we get every year to our Food Stamp Hotline, which allows us to help people apply for food assistance and other public benefits by phone.

With that kind of call volume, every single member of our small, but dedicated, staff is trained to answer the hotline. We hear from fathers who’ve lost their jobs and worry about feeding their kids; families whose savings were wiped out by a medical emergency; and seniors in their 80s applying for food assistance for the first time in their lives.

But last week, we received a phone message that none of us had ever had to handle:

“Hi. I-I need food,” the message began. “Because there’s no food in the house.”

It was a child’s voice. “My name is Shania, and I need food. I’m 8 years old. Could you please bring me some food and leave it at my door? Thank you.”

Although our staff regularly helps callers in difficult situations, this one stood out. Shania’s message was a reminder of how much is at stake when a family can’t put food on the table.  

Thankfully, our staff was able to contact Shania’s grandmother and provide her family with food stamp assistance as well as referrals to several local food pantries.

Every day, the stories of the fathers, mothers, grandparents and, sometimes, children who call our hotline are what motivate us to continue our fight against hunger.

But it’s the support of people like you that make our work possible.

Thank you, as always, for your commitment to fighting hunger in our community.


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Project Leader

Laura Wall

Philadelphia, PA United States

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