As we reflect on our Philabundance Let’s Eat meal box program, which wrapped up earlier this month, we’re excited to share highlights from this summer initiative.

Over the course of eight weeks, June 13th through August 6th, we distributed 16,000 nutritious meal kits to our 9-county community. That’s a total of 128,000 individual meals provided to families who otherwise may not have had wholesome lunches or dinners during the week.

“Approximately 400,000 children in Philabundance’s service area rely on school-provided meals as a steady source of food when school is in session and spend the summer wondering whether they will have enough to eat. Hunger disrupts not only kids’ summer fun, but also their growth and development,” said Philabundance CEO Loree D. Jones- Brown. “Being able to provide these meals directly aligns with our Good Food Policy, which is our commitment to providing healthy, nutritious, and culturally responsible foods that help our communities thrive.”

Our Philabundance fleet traveled to more than 20 community partners in Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey to deliver the meal kits, covering 992 round trip miles in total during the campaign. Community members could then visit the sites to pick up.  Kits included fresh produce, protein, and shelf-stable products to create 16 unique recipes. Keeping in mind the diversity of the people we reach, all associated materials were available in English, Spanish, and Mandarin.

The specialty recipes included meals like Southern Vegetable Soup, Spicy Black Bean Quesadillas, and Vietnamese Chicken Vermicelli bowls. Most of the kits featured a vegetable-based meal and a meat protein-based meal serving a family of four.

The recipes were designed by locally acclaimed chefs and culinary entrepreneurs including Elias Bitar (Norma’s Restaurant Group), Robert Bynum (South Restaurant), Meredith Laurence (Blue Jean Chef), Rosemarie Tran (Melograno, L’anima, Fraschetta), Erik Oberholtzer (Tender Greens), Daniel Stern (R2L), Marc Vetri (Vetri Cucina, Vetri Foundation), and Ellen Yin (Fork, High Street).

Chef Bitar said he was thrilled to partner with Philabundance for our Let’s Eat program, “I loved the idea of giving families fresh ingredients to cook a meal – together – and was more than happy to share my family’s Lebanese Lentil Soup recipe for it. Let’s Eat gave people the chance to make something they maybe haven’t tried before; with high-quality ingredients: the same vegetables and the same spices that I’d seek out myself. It’s pretty great to know that a centuries-old, passed-down recipe was made, and enjoyed, by thousands of families. And I hope they all plan to make it again and again!”

Throughout the course of Let’s Eat, the Philabundance team visited the distribution locations and talked with organizers and participants and consistently heard positive feedback.

“We have had rave reviews from our guests who are excited about these recipes and this fresh produce,” said Richona D. McKnight, Development Director for CityTeam Chester. “We were able to bring some of these meals over to the women and families we’re serving at the Women’s Transitional housing program called Turning Point. It’s really exciting to give these ladies an amazing meal and everything they need to create a delicious and healthy dinner. And they’re also able to learn some more cooking skills by using these recipes. We love them, we appreciate them, and are really glad Philabundance put so much thought and energy into these boxes because it comes across really clearly.”

Individuals receiving the meals couldn’t be more pleased with the program. Here are a few comments from our anonymous survey results:

“Love the boxes and love the recipes with the food.  The food is thoughtful and respectful of our culture and our neighborhood. It’s fresh food. We are not getting leftovers.”

“We have 8 kids and need everything you provide for us. God bless you for helping us.”

“Wonderful food – we had the chicken fajitas. Everything is very fresh. Thanks!”

“I liked the portions and easy instructions. We’ve never had some of those foods before.”

A former chef said the recipes are fabulous. “Better than a 10 in fact!”

“This is our first time as my family is struggling. I never thought I’d be here and grateful to receive.”

Let’s Eat supporters included Comcast, La Colombe Coffee Roasters, Nemours, Norma’s Restaurant Group, and MKM Foundation.

 

For more information click here: www.philabundance.org/lets-eat.