Help hungry families afford the food they need

by Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger

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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Too many students in Pennsylvania schools are missing the most important meal of the day. A recent Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) report found that just 45 percent of low-income children who eat lunch at school are also eating breakfast, ranking Pennsylvania 41st, nationwide. This not only affects a child's health, but also has been shown to have a negative impact on school performance.

In an effort to increase school breakfast participation, the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, along with other agencies statewide, has once again launched the Pennsylvania School Breakfast Challenge. The inaugural Challenge in 2014 saw more than 1,100 schools take part, with Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences in Philadelphia earning first place. Feltonville's breakfast participation increased from 29 percent to 77 percent in one year's time.

We believe that even more schools can begin to offer breakfast to students across the state thanks to the second School Breakfast Challenge, which will begin in the fall of 2015. Thanks to supporters like you, students throughout the state will have access to nutritious breakfast to help them perform well in the classroom.

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The results are in! We published our 2014 Summer Meals Hotline Report and we are thrilled to announce that through our hotline, we connected 4,523 children in Philadelphia to summer meal locations. 

Thanks to your support, we were once again able to operate our summer meals hotline and it proved even more popular this year. The total number of children connected to summer meals through the hotline in 2014 showed a 31 percent increase over 2013. While we advertised the hotline in many ways (robocalls, media, fliers), the most effective referral source was simply by word of mouth.

Many low income families struggle to provide meals once school lets out. Summer meals allows for no child to go hungry during the warmer months. According to Mayor Michael Nutter's office, 4,088,515 free meals were served to area youth over the summer. We will continue to staff our hotline for as long as needed to ensure that all children have the food they need to lead healthy lives.

Thank you for your role in helping to make last summer great for children in the Philadelphia area! 

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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