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New North Philadelphia Food Bank Gives Clients a Choice

By KYW’s Karin Philips

A new kind of community food cupboard has opened up in North Philadelphia.

The new community food center (above), located in the basement of the Lillian Marrero branch of the Free Library at 6th and Lehigh, looks like a supermarket — with shelves and freezer cases lined with food that clients can choose for themselves.

Philabundance president Bill Clark says this is one of few “choice” food pantries in the region, where people coming for food don’t just get a prepackaged box:

“At a ‘choice’ cupboard the volunteers put the food on the shelves just like a grocery store, and then the clients are allowed to take an empty box and select from what’s available to best meet their needs.”

Looking over the table of fresh vegetables as a Philabundance volunteer helped her with her selections at the center, Felicia Fountain called it a godsend:

“It’s nice, and you can live off of this because the price of living has gone up. So it helps. And it’s free!”

John Macgren says he goes as often as he can:

“I don’t have enough food to go around at the end of the month because right now I’m laid off. We need more places like this.”

Clark, of Philabundance, says that clients prefer the ability to choose what they get:

“We’re hoping to get a number of the agencies that are currently operating ‘box’ cupboards to model on this, but we’re also looking to open up additional units under the Philabundance banner — and we’re actually scouting for sites now.”

The 6th and Lehigh food center is serving more than 150 families in West Kensington and Fairhill.

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