Sharing is Caring at Philabundance
There is a sense today that we cannot simply rely upon government or industry to supply all our needs or support all the people that require assistance in society. The good will and efforts of those that volunteer with nonprofits are alive and more widespread than ever. The nature and variety of their tasks may vary in the fields of health care, environment, education and social work, but there is a place for everyone to do their part for the less fortunate. Some bring skills they have mastered in their careers, while others will be trained for specific duties, but the spirit is the same. Here in Philadelphia, we are blessed with a multitude of folks with a big heart, and our series can help them find their niche in the scheme of things.
Philabundance, in operation since 1984, is the largest hunger relief organization in the Delaware Valley, with a mission to drive hunger from our communities today and end hunger forever. Philabundance serves 90,000 low-income people each week at risk of hunger, 30 percent of which are children and 16 percent are senior citizens. Other populations served include the working class, college students and single parents. Over the course of a year, Philabundance uses the services of approximately 16,000 volunteers to help their neighbors in need through a variety of volunteer opportunities.
Communications Coordinator Samantha Retamar says, “Hunger hits every zip code, and Philabundance helps address the issue of hunger through direct food programs and approximately 350 agencies, including shelters, emergency kitchens and food pantries.” To help low-income adults gain a second chance at life, Philabundance offers a free, 14-week culinary arts and job training program called Philabundance Community Kitchen (PCK). It provides meals for those in need and operates a social enterprise, PCKatering, with proceeds going to feed the community.
Located in South Philadelphia, the Hunger Relief Center is Philabundance's hub of volunteer activity. Volunteers help pack and sort donated food and prepare it for distribution to neighbors in need. “The Hunger Relief Center is a great opportunity for those who are looking to give back,” says Retamar.
For the Produce Rescue volunteer shift at the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market, Philabundance works directly with the world's largest refrigerated market to obtain nutritious produce that would have been thrown out because it wasn't cosmetically pleasing. From 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Friday morning, they run volunteer shifts that sort and glean an average of 15,000 pounds of produce each shift—a great opportunity for up to 20 volunteers from groups and organizations.
Like a traveling farmers' market, the Philabundance Fresh Food For All program provides produce to those in need at multiple sites across the Delaware Valley. Volunteers help with set-up and clean-up, interact with clients and distribute much-needed fruits and vegetables.