Pitman, PA, to Philabundance, PA
Picture 216,000 eggs. That’s a lot of eggs! The FarmLink Project helped deliver this many eggs from High Family Farms (High Farms LLC) in Pitman, Pennsylvania to Philabundance in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania between two deliveries on July 1st and July 17th. Throughout June and July thus far, The FarmLink Project also worked with farmer Merlin High of High Family Farms to separately bring over 415,000 eggs to communities in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York, including La Morada Restaurant in Bronx, NY and Food Not Bombs in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The FarmLink Project partnered with Merlin once again for this delivery and continues to work with High Family Farms to deliver eggs to food insecure communities.
By Olivia Groell July 20, 2020
Philabundance, one of the Delaware Valley’s largest hunger relief organizations, has a mission to drive hunger from our communities today and end hunger for good. Prior to Covid-19, Philabundance served approximately 90,000 people at risk of food insecurity a week across its nine county service area, 30% of whom are children and 16% are seniors. Since the Covid-19 crisis hit Greater Philadelphia, Philabundance’s network of 350 partner agencies have reported up to a 60% increase in clients. To help combat this growing need, Philabundance has been creating and delivering “emergency food boxes” to help community members facing food insecurity.
On July 7th, I spoke with two employees at Philabundance: Cheyenne Pritchard (Program Manager, Emerging Retail, Sustainability) and Laura Pennington (Donations Associate, Food Acquisition). They stated that Philabundance, which is a member of Feeding America, still works with its “350 agency partners” to transport food to locations including “food pantries, emergency kitchens, and group homes,” but that there is an “increased load” due to rising unemployment rates. To demonstrate this greater need, Cheyenne said:
“Philabundance has partnered with the City of Philadelphia and Share Food Program to open 40 free food distribution sites across Philadelphia County, supplying communities with boxes of shelf stable and produce provisions for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The pandemic’s effect on the economy has also disrupted the food industry, which in turn is detrimental to Philabundance; Cheyenne wrote: “The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a drop in food industry donations to Philabundance by 48 percent.” The combination of greater need and fewer donations, along with rising food prices, as Cheyenne stated, is the reason why “Philabundance anticipates spending twice as much on food this year in comparison to last year.” The issues listed above are not going to end rapidly; Cheyenne explained,
“Philabundance foresees the long-term impact of Covid-19 on food supply lasting at least three months with ‘peaks and valleys’ of when and what type of food is available.” Cheyenne and Laura characterized Philabundance as a “food rescue organization” that emerged as one of the “spearheaders of the food rescue movement.” According to the Philabundance website, Pamela Rainey Lawler created the organization in 1984 after observing an excess of food and an abundance of hunger in the Philadelphia area.
Philabundance now rescues enormous quantities of food each year, with Cheyenne and Laura stating that 25-26 million pounds of food were rescued in the 2019/2020 fiscal year. Much of the rescued product was food that would have otherwise been wasted. The “food rescue program” is an integral part of Philabundance. According to Cheyenne and Laura, this program consists of volunteers going to the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market and “rescuing food” that would have been composted.
Philabundance has various other programs including Grocers Against Hunger (GAH), which, according to both Cheyenne and the Philabundance website, salvages 10 million pounds of food each year and works with over 300 grocery stores. Grocers Against Hunger connects local, regional, and national grocery retailers with Philabundance agencies in their areas. Another program, Emerging Retail, focuses on working with restaurants, caterers, event hosts, food service providers and other retail locations to rescue food and distribute it. Additionally, Cheyenne and Laura discussed the Philabundance retail brand Abundantly Good, which sells cheese through partner retailers and manufacturers. For every product sold, proceeds go back to a donation fund to provide the same high-quality items for those in need. Abundantly Good is considered a “triple bottom line brand,” which means that it is devoted to people, profit, and planet, according to Cheyenne and Investopedia. Philabundance is committed to sustainability and to raising awareness about food waste. For example, Cheyenne and Laura explained how we are able to can food to preserve it instead of letting it go to waste.
The 108,000 eggs delivered to Philabundance on July 1st were delivered to the Galloway Warehouse in South Philly and then distributed to 40 partner organizations. Laura said that at least one agency in all nine of the counties across Philadelphia and New Jersey that Philabundance serves received eggs. Cheyenne and Laura explained that on Tuesdays and Fridays, different Philabundance agencies pick up product from what they call the Philabundance Hub.
So, how many meals were delivered to Philabundance on July 1st and July 17th? A total of 31,200 lbs of eggs were delivered to Philabundance between these two dates, which translates to about 26,000 meals, according to Feeding America’s conversion from USDA’s What We Eat in America 2011-2012 where one standard meal is roughly 1.2 lbs.* Thanks to High Family Farms, Philabundance, and the support of our donors, The FarmLink Project was able to facilitate the delivery of roughly 26,000 meals to residents in Delaware Valley so far this July. The FarmLink Project is grateful to work with inspiring organizations like Philabundance and people like Cheyenne and Laura to facilitate these deliveries of food to those in need. *((31,200 lbs of eggs)*(1 meal/1.2 lbs)).