Philabundance’s Pound for Pound Challenge

Gloria Blakely
Philadelphia Charity Examiner

Philabundance, the Delaware Valley’s largest hunger relief organization, benefits from residents in the area pledging to lose pounds or maintain their current weight. What a wonderful irony that losing unwanted pounds results in feeding the hungry, but such is the beauty of the 3rd Annual Pound for Pound Challenge.

It is a nationwide program benefiting eligible food security organizations in locales nearest pound pledgers. The program operates in partnership with NBC’s Biggest Loser, General Mills, Subway, and Feeding America through May 31.

It works by individuals pledging to drop a certain amount of pounds or maintaining their current weight at The Challenge donates 11 cents per pound to Feeding America up to a maximum of $1,040,000 or 8 million pounds. Feeding America, then, distributes the funds to local charities in the pledger’s region.

Imagine America becoming 8 million pounds healthier while $880,000 goes to eligible hunger relief programs. Plenty of room remains for pledges. Nationally 1,427,117 pounds have been pledged from 50,444 people. Almost 6 times those pounds are needed to reach the maximum donation.

Philabundance receives Pound for Pound donations in this area. Today, it has 14,714 pounds pledged from 595 people, which equates to a potential $1,618.54. That places Philabundance 9th in state rankings, well below the Greater Pittsburg Community Food Bank, which ranks number 1 in the state and 6 nationwide.

Needless to say, the true beneficiaries of this program are both the pledgers and 1 in 6 Americans struggling against hunger.

Philabundance serves nine counties in the Delaware Valley. The organization provides food to about 65,000 people per week directly and through a network of 500 agencies at a cost of 30 cents per meal. In addition to kitchen-cooked meals, canned foods, etc., low-income households gain access to fresh food weekly in designated areas.

Donations to its food drives, however, were down 3% in fiscal year 2009 (October 2008 through September 2009). Food drive donations dropped even further (- 6%) last fiscal year. Marianne Lynch, director of development, says Philabundance receives notes explaining that people who were once food donors are now customers of charity food shelves.

Such dynamics raise the stakes for the Pound for Pound Challenge, because more not less food is needed to keep pace with the area’s growing need. Until the economy fully recovers the need will continue to grow. More Delaware Valley residents are invited to pledge away their pounds.

“The Pound for Pound Challenge is an excellent way to draw attention to the national issue of hunger in America while supporting local efforts to drive hunger from our communities,” said Bill Clark, president and executive director of Philabundance. “We have seen the need for food assistance increase 66% over the last two years, this challenge is a call for action for all of our neighbors to join in the fight against hunger.”

More than 900,000 people in the Delaware Valley are at risk for chronic hunger and malnutrition, a situation definitely within the nation’s power to change.

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