Philabundance and PWPM Share A Rewarding Humanitarian Relationship

News Source: The Produce News

By Christina DiMartino

Philabundance is a non-profit food bank that serves the Philadelphia and Delaware Valley region of Pennsylvania. Nearly 900,000 people in the region are affected by hunger. Founded in 1984 with the belief that no person should go hungry, today the food bank provides food to approximately 75,000 people per week through direct service programs and a network of 400 member agencies, as well as contributing to a broad spectrum of social services through food cupboards, emergency kitchens, shelters, daycare and senior centers and beyond.

Its growth and eventual integration with the Philadelphia Food Bank in 2005, has made Philabundance the largest hunger relief organization in the region.

Lisa Hodaei is the deputy director, food acquisition, for the organization. She said that Philabundance has a wonderful relationship with its partners at the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market.

Volunteers helping out at Philabundance, a non-profit food bank that serves the Philadelphia and Delaware Valley region of Pennsylvania. (Photos courtesy of Philabundance)

“We moved into our location in South Philadelphia across from the old location neighboring M. Levin & Co. and Procacci Bros. in 1998, so our market partnership goes back to at least then, and possibly longer,” said Hodaei. “Philabundance has a refrigerated truck, and our driver goes to the PWPM each morning, Monday through Friday.”

The driver, she noted, has a great relationship with the merchants’ teams, and he worked as Philabundance’s perishable warehouse manager before transitioning to the transportation department.

“His experience enables him to know how to evaluate produce as well as knowing our distribution abilities,” added Hodaei.

The amount of produce it collects from the terminal market varies daily. On some days the driver makes the rounds and it’s just a little, but some days it’s a lot.

“The truck can hold nine to 10 pallets when full,” Hodaei explained. “Occasionally, Paul Giordano & Sons Inc., located on the market, will deliver product to us if they have more than our driver can take. Procacci Bros. and M. Levin have donated from their warehouse locations, and they facilitate donations through their clients. It comes in multiple pallets, or sometimes multiple truckload volumes, so it really runs the gamut. As with everything, market conditions tend to dictate.”

Philabundance is totally tuned into perishables, and they understand the seriousness of shelf life.

Hodaei said that it provides produce to its over 400-member partner network either through deliveries or a weekly pickup opportunity at its warehouse.

“We also operate a weekly direct-to-client program called ‘Fresh for All,’” she explained. “Our operations and logistics teams here at Philabundance work hard to ensure timely distribution. Often, the assortment from the PWPM vendors will improve our variety in the delivery distributions as morning add-ons to supplement already picked orders that are ready to go out.  Typical distribution time for PWPM merchant donations from our warehouse is 24-48 hours.”

Last fall, Philabundance developed an additional volunteer project that now enables it, in collaboration with donors, to begin receiving fresh produce that is otherwise destined for landfills. Such product may have been warehoused too long by the shipper or distributor, so is determined to be unsalable to clients. Or, it may simply need to be moved to make space for newer product, but is still perfectly safe and edible. That product is now earmarked for donation rather than for the trash bin and ultimately landfills. These situations sometimes result in major donations.

“We have averaged between 1.5 and 2.2 million pounds of produce donations from all of our PWPM partners each year,” said Hodaei. “It is an incredible contribution which enhances our ability to provide fresh, nutritious food to our communities across our service area.”

She said that Philabundance is highly grateful to its merchant partners, saying, “We send a big ‘thank you’ to all of our merchant partners and their hard-working staff members who do a lot of heavy lifting. And we send a special thanks to Sonny DiCrecchio and Dan Kane whose support is deeply appreciated.”

DiCrecchio is the president and chief executive officer, and Kane is the general manager of the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market.

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