“At the end of the day, if people can’t eat, nothing else matters,” David says.
In March 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, David Antzis was watching the news when it hit him. There, in front of his eyes, was a 9-year old Monmouth County, NJ girl in tears, making a confession to her entire virtual class: there wasn’t enough food in her home. She was starving.
“I was talking to my wife and I said, ‘giving to a food pantry is just a short term solution. I wonder if I can do something more,’” he says.
David and his wife, Judy, were no strangers to the charitable food system. For years, they had volunteered with their local food pantry in Ardmore, even rescuing food from local grocers like Trader Joe’s to ensure nutritious food didn’t go to waste. While it was no secret that the pandemic had put a strain on many already at-risk families, seeing that 9-year old’s admission was particularly moving for David.
“There are a lot of children in this country whose only nutritious meal is at school,” he says. “With schools closed, they were being deprived of that one really good meal.”
Wanting to do more, but unsure where to begin, David, a lawyer and partner at Royer Cooper Cohen Braunfeld (RCCB) LLC, called on his peers. In a letter sent to 150 Pennsylvania law firms, David outlined the extent of the hunger crisis in America, asking law firm leaders throughout the state to join him in making a sizable contribution to a local organization that feeds the hungry. To date, David’s challenge, Justice for the Hungry, has garnered more than $625,000 in commitments to organizations fighting hunger. Philabundance is honored to be among the organizations receiving these much-needed funds.
“We are doing something we feel really good about, and that seems to have resonated with a lot of people,” he says. “I’m gratified that so many people have stepped up and helped the way they have.”
In fact, at David’s own firm, employees are stepping up in a new way, giving their time to further the impact of the challenge. In partnership with Philabundance partner, Sharing Excess, RCCB employees have volunteered to pick up unsold food at local grocery stores and make deliveries to pantries in need, much like David and his wife did years ago.
Despite its relevance amid an ongoing pandemic, food insecurity isn’t a new issue. While David is proud of the financial traction his initiative has gained, it has yielded another critical benefit: awareness. “Food insecurity doesn’t always mean you’re starving, but you do have competing interests,” he says. “Am I going to pay my rent? Pay my doctor’s bill? Feed my children? These are decisions people have to make every day.”
Born out of a desire to do more, Justice for the Hungry is just one example of the power of our collective impact, on that David hopes to inspire more members of the corporate community to band together to make a difference.