Anti-Hunger Leaders and Activists Examine Food Access in Our Country

On September 22, Philabundance Will Hold the First Annual Hunger Symposium to focus on food access in the United States and the Delaware Valley

Philadelphia, Pa.- September 15, 2011– Philabundance, the region’s largest hunger relief organization, is holding its first annual Hunger Symposium on Thursday, September 22, 7:30 am- 1:30 pm. The lack of food access is a dire crisis in the country and there are many obstacles and challenges people must face who live in these food deserts. Mari Gallagher who coined the term food desert and Joel Berg, executive director of the NYC Coalition Against Hunger will join other hunger experts and advocates from across the nation to delve into the challenges of food access and food deserts around the country.

This half day symposium includes breakfast, lunch and discussions on the effects of poverty and the increase in need as well as strategically addressing food access in Pennsylvania. A keynote presentation and a special presentation are included. Featured speakers and panelists include:

  • Keynote SpeakerMari Gallagher, Principle, Mari Gallagher Research and Consulting Group and coined the term food desert.
  • Special PresentationJoel Berg, Executive Director, New York City Coalition Against Hunger and a nationally recognized leader in the fields of hunger and food security, national and community service, and technical assistance provision to faith-based and community organizations.
  • Panel #1: The Effects of Poverty and the Increase in NeedMariana Chilton, PhD MPH Drexel University, Director, Witnesses to Hunger, Edward Zogby, Director Bureau of Policy, Department of Welfare, Lynda Kugel, Director of Self-Sufficiency, PathwaysPA and Rachel Cooper, Senior Policy Analyst, FRAC.
  • Special PresentationBill Clark, president and executive director will address attendees on Philabundance’s future plans to further improve access in the Delaware Valley.
  • Panel #2: Strategically Addressing Food Access in PennsylvaniaYael Lehmann, Executive Director, The Food Trust, Don Hinkle-Brown, CEO, The Reinvestment Fund, Elaine Waxman, VP for Research and Partnerships, Feeding America and Bill Clark, Executive Director, Philabundance.

Earlier this year, the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) released a study, Food Hardship in America- 2010. Food hardship is defined by an individual not having enough money to buy food that they or their family needed at some point over the last year. Most recently, FRAC released a study showing households with children that experienced food hardship.

  • 16.2 percent of Pennsylvanians experienced food hardship in 2010
  • 18 percent of Americans experienced food hardship last year
  • Nearly half of households with children in the First Congressional District experienced Food Hardship
  • 21.6 percent of households with children in Pennsylvania experienced food hardship
  • Nationally, 23.4 percent of households with children experienced food hardship

The Food Trust, an organization that also strives to make healthy food available to everyone, has conducted numerous studies on food desserts and access to healthy foods. According to “The Grocery Gap: Who has food and why it matters” report, low-income zip codes have 30 percent more convenience stores than middle-income zip codes and according to the study “Harnessing the Power of Supermarkets to Help Reverse Childhood Obesity,”  those who live in food deserts are at a greater risk of obesity-related disease.

The 1st Annual Hunger Symposium will touch on why food access is a major issue in hunger and the increasing need for food assistance in the Delaware Valley and the country. For more information, please visit If you, or someone you know is in need of food, contact Philabundance’s Food Help Line, 800-319-Food (3663).


About Philabundance
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 to close to 500 member agencies in 9 counties, who serve approximately 65,000 people per week at an aggregate 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 2010, Philabundance distributed 21 million pounds of food. For more information about Philabundance, visit or call 215-339-0900.

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