FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Philabundance Reveals Bold, New Initiative to End Hunger For Good
Recognizing That Hunger Rarely Occurs in a Vacuum, Philabundance Launches Collaborative Pilot Program to Pair Critical Services and Food to Promote Self-Sufficiency
Philadelphia, PA, March 11, 2019—Philabundance today announced a bold new initiative, Ending Hunger For Good, to shorten the lines at area food distribution sites and provide long-term food security for those facing hunger. Through collaboration with community providers of critical life services, Philabundance will convene cross-sector partnerships coupling its food and resources with education, financial literacy, health services, housing and/or job assistance to those in need, and, together, monitor its impact on participants’ stability, self-sufficiency and food security to create replicable models that end hunger for good.
“While feeding those in need now is important work, distributing food alone is not enough,” said Melanie Cataldi, Chief Impact Officer of Philabundance. “It doesn’t ensure that those facing hunger today will have food tomorrow or beyond.”
“Our bold initiative — to end hunger for good — requires that we do something more, something different and something innovative. We will create unique, cross-sector partnerships that offer food plus the tools clients need to provide stability for themselves and their families.”
It is well documented that hunger rarely occurs in a vacuum, Cataldi noted.
Research accumulated by Feeding America, a network of top-performing U.S. food banks, suggests that those with $250 to $750 in emergency funds have the best chance of weathering emergencies that impact stability and food security. An unexpected $500 car repair, for example, may cause a family to use funds earmarked for rent for these repairs, leaving no money for food. With a few hundred dollars in savings, the same family wouldn’t face the same spending trade-offs.
Philabundance will test this theory in a series of pilot programs, offering food plus critical services and support provided by carefully selected community partners. The first, with Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery and Delaware Counties and the Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities (PCRC) will offer seven families food plus:
– Participation in a six-week Habitat MontDelCo program, Almost Home, which helps participants become financially stable through education, group support and a private financial coach. During each class, participants receive free childcare and meals. Participants who create an emergency fund of $500 or more will receive a $250 incentive.
– Case management through PCRC for 12 months, including access to household assistance, supportive services and referrals to other services that support these participants in strengthening their households and eliminating food insecurity.
Initial results of this pilot, which has been generously funded by the HealthSpark Foundation, will be available by this summer.
“The idea grew out of a new 10-year initiative of Healthspark Foundation that is challenging nonprofits, for-profits, government officials, residents and others concerned about basic services to develop innovative ideas to strengthen the safety net system in Montgomery County,” explains Marianne Lynch, CEO of Habitat MontDelco. “Everyone is tired of the band-aid approach; there are deeper issues that can be addressed by novel approaches that can be scaled and replicated.”
Simultaneously while this pilot runs, Philabundance is pursuing additional cross-sector partners, and expects to run 2-3 more pilots in 2019, at least one of which will be in Philadelphia, where 1 in 5 people faces hunger.
“Nearly 326,000 Philadelphia County residents and almost 80,000 residents in Montgomery County worry about when they will get their next meal,” said Dr. Val Arkoosh, Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. “I look forward to using the information gained from this program in our fight against hunger, and know that it will also be a catalyst for other collaborations in our region.”
Impact of the pilot programs will be monitored and reported over time, with joint goals focused on increasing food security and other indicators of household stability, helping determine which pilots are effective and which to replicate to help end hunger for good locally and across the country.
To support this new work, Philabundance has created a new department dedicated to establishing relationships, as well as implementing and monitoring pilot results. Melanie Cataldi, who has been with Philabundance for 19 years, and was most recently the Chief Operating Officer, will become the Chief Impact Officer. In this role, she will lead the development and execution of strategies and initiatives to improve outcomes and helping targeted groups of people facing hunger achieve sustained food security. She will lead the organization’s pioneering work in identifying, developing, launching and managing partnerships and policies that help to end hunger by moving food insecure families and individuals toward a food secure future.
Included in this newly-created department is Philabundance Community Kitchen, a 14-week culinary arts job training program, which has graduated almost 850 low-income adults to date, and provided them with jobs and support to find jobs in the culinary industry and beyond. This almost 20-year program has always focused on outcome-based work, providing its participants stability, and will likely host a pilot program in Philadelphia in 2019.
The Ending Hunger For Good initiative is being developed through Philabundance’s participation in the Evaluation Capacity Building Initiative (ECBI) of The Pew Fund for Health and Human Services. The purpose of the ECBI is to help select Pew Fund grantees assess and strengthen the impact of their services for the region’s most vulnerable residents. Through group learning sessions and tailored coaching provided by ImpactED, the 15-month program helps organizations develop the tools and techniques to design effective programs, measure impact and build cultures of learning.
Agencies, funders or partners who are interested in supporting this work can email EndingHunger@Philabundance.org.
If you are interested in interviewing Melanie Cataldi, or learning more about this initiative, please contact Stef Arck-Baynes, Director of Communications at Philabundance, at email@example.com or 215-339-0900 x 1503.
Philabundance is the Delaware Valley’s largest hunger relief organization. For 35 years, it has focused on providing emergency food to those in need. In 2018, it relieved hunger by distributing more than 26 million pounds of food through a network of 350 member agencies. In 2019, it began partnerships with critical services providers, offering food coupled with other services to end hunger for good. Philabundance serves more than 90,000 people each week, 30 percent of whom are children, 16 percent of whom are seniors, and other clients include college students, single parents and the working class. Give now or learn more at Philabundance.org.
About Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery and Delaware Counties
The mission of Habitat MontDelco is to bring people together to build homes, communities, and hope. Habitat constructs homes for affordable home ownership, preserves aging housing stock by completing critical home repairs, provides financial literacy and life skills classes, and revitalizes neighborhoods. For more information, call 610-278-7710, or visit www.habitatmontdelco.org.