Philabundance Facing Dry Food Crisis, Asking For Community-wide Support
Philabundance agency forced to close doors due to lack of food availability
Philadelphia, Pa.- October 25, 2012- Philabundance, the Delaware Valley’s largest hunger relief organization, is facing a critical dry food shortage that has resulted in cut backs in food distribution to Philabundance’s network of community agencies and the Community Food Center at 6th and Leigh in Philadelphia . Last week St. Michael’s Food Cupboard in Kensington was not able to open for the first time in 20 years due to the dry food shortage.
A number of issues such as rising food prices, high gas prices and declining donated dry food in volume and variety have compounded making it increasingly difficult for Philabundance to secure and provide enough food to feed the people who need it most. The demand for food is rising, and over the last 12 months Philabundance distributed between 100,000 to 200,000 more pounds of dry food each month when inventory allowed in an effort to keep up with the growing need. Dry donations are not keeping up with demand and are by 300,000 pounds lower than this time last year. Philabundance’s busiest season is approaching when demand is at the highest.
Philabundance is calling out for help from the community, corporations and organizations in the Delaware Valley to help them get through the next 4 to 8 weeks, so that they don’t have to continue to cut back the amount of dry food going into the community. A dedicated food fund is set up for donations to help re-stock Philabundance’s warehouse. By visiting www.Philabundance.org , you can make a donation. Community food drives are another way to help, but the focus is on monetary donations because financial support is the most expedient way to get the much needed food out to the community.
Hunger relief organizations across the Delaware Valley are working together to do the best they can to ensure the demand is being met. Philabundance is working closely with Steveanna Wynn, executive director of the SHARE food program to designate additional dry food options on the Philabundance menu which can be covered by State Food Purchase Program funds which many of Philabundance’s agencies are able to utilize for food.
“We are in the middle of what some could call a perfect storm. As our neighbors continue to battle these tough financial times, the demand for food is continuing to increase while a laundry list of factors have come together resulting in a decrease in dry food donations,” said Bill Clark, president and executive director of Philabundance. “Tighter manufacturing practices in the food industry, the rising cost of food and high fuel prices, which increases the shipping and handling rates, are all working against us right now. Many of our sister Food Banks across the country are experiencing the same dilemma and are scrambling to get product for their agencies and clients.”
Any kind of food shortage will affect all aspects of Philabundance, from the agencies to the direct neighborhood distribution programs including Philabundance’s Community Food Center (CFC). CFC is located in North Philadelphia and was launched in 2009, to provide better access to nutritious foods for the people in the Fairhill and West Kensington neighborhoods. CFC is a choice style food pantry that allows clients to “shop” on their own, choosing what they like from a wide variety of perishable and non-perishable items weekly. With this current food shortage, there may not be enough food to stock the CFC shelves.
Philabundance has tremendous community support with more food drives than ever, but they are yielding less dry product per drive than this time last year. Although people in the community show an outpouring of support, Philabundance has purchased more food over the last nine months than ever before to meet the high demands. The variety of food is not as diverse as in years past which add to the problem. Each food pantry, emergency kitchen and shelter is different in the types of food they can store and provide as well as the types of food the people they serve are accustomed to eating.
Philabundance’s second annual Hunger Symposium, held earlier this fall, focused on the issue of finding food to meet the need and how food banks and organizations like Philabundance can sustain the current food banking model and ways to adapt and change to new circumstances of less donated food, more need and lack of access to food by those who really need it.
“If you look at the numbers, the amount of pounds we have brought in during the past year has gone up, we distributed 4 million more pounds of food last year, but we also purchased much more food last year to meet the need. The increase in demand and the dry food shortage will make it harder for us to distribute more food to the community than last year,” said Bill Clark. “The quality of food that is donated to us is top notch but the variety is just not always there. The frozen protein that gets donated is not helpful to the agency that doesn’t have refrigeration. These agencies need a variety of nutritious foods, which included dry goods to help fill the void that out neighbors are facing.”
For more information or to make a donation, please visit www.philabundance.org or call 215-339-0900.
Philabundance reduces hunger and food insecurity in the Delaware Valley by providing food access to people in need in partnership with organizations and individuals. Philabundance provides a full plate of services through neighborhood distribution programs and a network of close to 500 member agencies in 9 counties. Philabundance serves approximately 65,000 people per week at a cost of 50 cents per meal. There are more than 900,000 people in the Delaware Valley who are at risk for chronic hunger and malnutrition. In 2011, Philabundance distributed 21 million pounds of food. For more information about Philabundance, visit www.philabundance.org or call 215-339-0900. Visit us on Facebook, Facebook.com/Philabundance and follow us on Twitter, Twitter.com/Philabundance. If you or someone you know is in need of food assistance, please call Philabundance’s Food Help Line, 800-319-Food (3663).