“When COVID hit, Philabundance sprang into action by starting additional food distribution locations at 40 sites throughout Philadelphia to increase access to healthy food items. That’s how I found myself at KleinLife, a Philabundance partner agency in Northeast Philly, back in early April.

 

The distribution was scheduled to take place between 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. Before the distribution started, there were about 100 cars already lined up around the KleinLife parking lot, into the street and down the block.

 

KleinLife, in partnership with Philabundance, did an amazing job with the drive-through and distributed about 400 boxes of food. By 10:15, all the food had been distributed and it was time to clean up. When I was getting into my car to leave, a woman drove up in an SUV. She seemed panicked and asked, ‘Is it over?’ I told her the distribution had ended early because the food was gone but that there were other distributions the city she could attend.

 

Line of cars waiting to receive emergency food boxes at KleinLife, a Philabundance member agency.

 

She just started to cry. I could see the tears just falling down her face as she tried to keep it together. I looked in her backseat and saw at least two kids in the car. Then I heard the woman say under her breath, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do.’

 

Even though all the food was gone, I still wanted to help. I offered to take her to a local store to buy groceries, but she said that she going to figure this out on her own. She then quickly pulled out of the parking lot and took a left.

 

 

Honestly, I think about that woman every day. Where did that left take her? What got me most was the fear in her eyes when she said, ‘I don’t know what am I going to do?’ I just hope she was able to find some food and get help.

 

Watching and speaking with her, it felt like a dagger to the heart because I’ve been there. I know what being food insecure feels like. But I don’t have kids. I’ve never had to worry about feeding anyone else but myself. Yes, Philabundance and its agency members are fantastic, but there’s only so much we can do to fight hunger. The need is just so great, especially during COVID.

 

Samantha Retamar helping to distribute emergency food boxes at KleinLife, a Philabundance agency.

 

What people don’t understand about food insecurity is that it hits every ZIP Code. So many people are just one misfortune away from having to choose between heating their house or feeding their family. It’s not just certain type of people living in certain type of neighborhood. So, during this time of COVID, let’s remember to be kind and to take care of each other when we can.

 

Sam Retamar
Public Relations Associate, Philabundance