Philabundance says the need is much greater this holiday season
For the rest of this year, every dollar donated to the Philabundance virtual food drive’s matching system, a donor — who has not been named — will match that amount up to $100,000.Needless to say, Bill Clark, the non-profit’s executive director, hopes people are extra giving this holiday season.But he also hopes the giving doesn’t stop once the ball drops. Food pantries throughout Philadelphia are shrinking and the number of hungry families is growing. Most of that is due to severe Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cuts that went into effect on Nov. 1. Clark said with the reduction in food stamps, families are running out of food around the third week of the month — and that’s meant for Thanksgiving and next week, during Christmas week. How does Philabundance prepare for the influx of hungry children and their families not only during the holidays but in the wakes of cuts?
“You really don’t,” Clark said. “You try the best you can. We’re talking about a wave of need that’s being generated in terms of congressional inaction, that’s just going to knock us off of our feet.”Clark is also referring to unemployment compensation and how at the end of the year, nearly 87,000 people will be cut off.And even though Philabundance is collecting a record amount of food, the pressure is on. There are still ways to donate this holiday season. The easiest way is to write a check.“That’s always important,” Clark said. A donor can even specify where he or she wants his or her money to go.Food drives are important and can be set up through the Philabundance website.There’s also still time to volunteer your services for the holidays. Donated food comes in commingled.“Before we can get it into condition to send it out to our 500 agencies,” Clark said, “it has to be sorted. So, we use a huge amount of volunteers to sort through that.” You may think the holidays each year are when Philabundance needs the most food but actually, it’s June, July and August, when kids are not getting breakfast and lunch at school.“In the summer,” Clark said, “they are out of school and still hungry. The parents have to feed them and that puts a huge amount of pressure on the household.”With recent SNAP and upcoming benefit cuts, the need will be that much greater, Clark added.
By the numbers
72,000: The number of people Philabundance helps feed a week.
$1:Giving $1 will deliver two meals.
120M:The amount of meals lost due to SNAP and benefits cuts.