Help hungry families afford the food they need

by Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger
Vetted

On Tuesday, July 12, we held our annual Walk Against Hunger Celebration! Each year, we use this day as a chance to celebrate the men and women who serve as food pantry and soup kitchen coordinators, and also to distribute checks to teams that raised money during the Thomas' Walk Against Hunger.

More than 100 emergency food providers took part in the luncheon and it was our pleasure to serve the meal to so many who dedicate their lives to serving others. In addition to the check distribution, there was also a Cook-Off, and guests were invited to bring a dish to be judged. 

The competition was fierce across five categories: salad, main course, side dish, dessert, and healthy food. The dishes were judged by our guest chef, Delilah, and winners were announced and recognized. It was great to see some new faces as well as some excellent cooks who seem to be in the winner's circle every year!

The food pantries and soup kitchens (not including large agencies, and sponsors) raised more than $138,000 combined through this year's Thomas' Walk Against Hunger! Those funds go directly to their individual programs.

Thanks to supporters like you, we are able to continue to be a valuable resource for the more than 100 pantries and soup kitchens that we work closely with. These programs offer incredible services to those in Philadelphia who face food insecurity on a daily basis and we value the opportunity to work with them to ensure all people have the food they need to lead healthy lives. 

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On Saturday, April 9th, about 1,000 people braved the cold, rain and even snow for the Thomas' Walk Against Hunger, which benefits more than 100 food pantries, soup kitchens and hunger-relief agencies in the region. Despite the chilly temperatures, we were able to build a public witness against hunger and were reminded just how powerful the hunger fighting community is.

This year marked the 20th anniversary of the event, which provides a vehicle for many small food pantries and soup kitchens to raise much needed funds for their programs. In many cases, the money raised at the Walk Against Hunger comprise the entire yearly operating budget for these volunteer-run programs.

These emergency food providers play vital roles to fight hunger on the front lines and serve upwards of 500,000 people each year in the Philadelphia area. Thanks to the tremendous support of sponsors and supporters like you, the Thomas' Walk Against Hunger was another huge success and will make a difference to the hundreds of thousands of people in our region who turn to food pantries and soup kitchens for help. 

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For 278 families in our region, last year was made just a bit easier thanks to the support of hunger fighters like you!

As we begin a new year, we are thrilled to report that our two Green Light Pantries served nearly 30,000 pounds of healthy food to 278 families in 2015.

If you are not familiar with this initiative, these Green Light Pantries were opened in 2013 and provide only highly nutritious food to their clients. In addition, pantry members can participate in monthly nutrition workshops, health screenings and receive other services.

"It's just different," said Danaya, a client of the Green Light Pantry. "Everything is so fresh...It's just a home feeling. A home away from home...it saves me tremendously being able to have it (the pantry) in my life."

For many families that face food insecurity, nutritious food is often not an option as it generally cost more to eat healthy. This pantry model was designed to improve healthy food access for all. 

In November, we teamed up with the Philadelphia Eagles for the annual Eagles Tackle Hunger online healthy food drive. The campaign brought in thousands of pounds of food to benefit the Green Light Pantries. Two Eagles players, Cody Parkey and Brandon Bair kicked off the drive by delivering freshly picked produce from our friends at Greener Partners with Swoop, the team mascot.

In our 2015 Emergency Food Provider Report, we surveyed more than 230 food pantries and soup kitchens in the Philadelphia region. One of many important findings was that 90 percent of respondents indicated that they wanted to offer healthy food to their clients. 

Important to us is that the Green Light Pantries follow the "choice pantry" model, meaning that clients are allowed to choose exactly which foods they would like, instead of receiving a pre-packaged bag or box. Not only does this cut down on food waste, but it provides clients with a measure of dignity as well.

We look forward to assisting even more families with more food in 2016. As always, thank you for your support of programs like our Green Light Pantries!

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Just about one year ago, The Coalition Against Hunger partnered with The Food Trust to hold an Eat Healthy, Give Healthy food drive at local farmers’ market’s to increase accessibility to fresh produce at local food pantries.

It began as an idea by two AmeriCorps VISTA's, Jessica Humphries and Kalie Wertz, and the immediate success let us know that people in Philadelphia care about fresh food access for all! 

The goal of the initial drives, held at Headhouse Square and Fitler Square Farmers' Markets in November 2014, was to give shoppers at the market an opportunity to donate fresh produce that would benefit the Coalition's Green Light Pantries.

The drives, held the Saturday and Sunday before Thanksgiving, collected 455 pounds of produce. Thrilled with the success, Jess and Kalie planned a second drive ahead of the Christmas holiday and collected an additional 270 pounds of produce to benefit food pantries in West Philadelphia.

It was clear that Eat Healthy, Give Healthy could serve as a way to get significant amounts of fresh produce into the hands of people at food pantries. Committed to connecting food pantries to fresh produce, The Coalition Against Hunger and The Food Trust now hold Eat Healthy, Give Healthy drives throughout the year.

The idea has caught the attention of others as well, and now Jefferson Hospital’s Farmers’ Market holds its own each month. All told, the drives have brought in nearly 2,000 pounds of fresh produce to food pantries across the city.

Please support our mission to increase healthy food access to all!

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Summer vacation. For many, the thought of those precious few months away from school bring back happy memories of days spent playing with friends, going to the beach, or enjoying a swim at a local pool. Unfortunately for too many children in the Philadelphia area, summer also brings hungry stomachs.

Families with children who receive free or reduced price school meals often rely on those programs and leaves many of scrambling to provide enough during the summer. According to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), only one in five Pennsylvania children who participate in the school lunch program also participate in summer meals. It is imperative that we all help spread the word about FREE summer meals that are offered at more than 1,000 sites in the Philadelphia region!

Kids and teenagers up to 18-years-old are able to receive free meals with no registration, ID, or proof of income required. To help raise awareness for the program, the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger held a press conference on Tuesday, June 23, at Aquinas Center in South Philadelphia. The kids present received lunch and listened to remarks by Deputy Mayor of Philadelphia Rich Negrin, USDA Representative James Harmon, Anne Ayella from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and Noelle Dames of the Coalition Against Hunger. In addition, Philadelphia Eagles Mascot SWOOP was there to show his support for the program!

In an effort to reach more children and teens this year, the Coalition worked with AFRICOM Philadelphia to translate outreach materials into nine languages! This effort, coupled with phone calls from Mayor Michael Nutter and Philadelphia Eagles player Jon Dorenbos that will go to all families with school-aged children in Philadelphia, will help us connect more children and teenagers to summer meals.

Once again, the Coalition Against Hunger is hosting the Summer Meals Hotline to make it easy for people to find their nearest summer meals site. Those in need of summer meals should call 1-855-252-MEAL (6325), text "FOOD" to 877877, or visit www.phillysummermeals.org for a searchable map.

Together, let’s make sure no kid goes hungry in Philadelphia this summer!

Press conference at Aquinas Center
Press conference at Aquinas Center
SWOOP showing his love for summer meals!
SWOOP showing his love for summer meals!

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Organization Information

Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger

Location: Philadelphia, PA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.hungercoalition.org
Project Leader:
Laura Wall
Philadelphia, PA United States

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