West Philly Food Pantry Volunteer Sees Change in Those Served
Linda is a former data analyst with a keen eye for improving efficiencies (and a warm heart for making a difference). After being a member of the Grace Lutheran Church in West Philadelphia for more than 40 years, she accepted an opportunity to run the church’s food distribution program, a Philabundance member agency, 16 years ago when she retired from her full-time position. Its Thursday food distribution alone serves approximately 300 people each week.
Linda says over the years she and her team of dedicated volunteers – including her granddaughter, Linda Jr. Jr. – have seen a change in the individuals they serve. Once largely an African-American neighborhood, today they also assist Asian and Latino families, as well as persons of varying economic statuses, including homeless individuals and college students.
This is why Linda is so grateful for the diverse product delivered by Philabundance and encourages her team to pay attention to who is coming through the line. Volunteers occasionally gently ask about living situations to ensure individuals not only get good food, but food they can use and cook.
“We try to be aware,” says Linda. “Individuals who are homeless, living in a shelter or residing in a dormitory may need different types of foods because they don’t have a full kitchen or stove.”
Although many once thought of food insecurity as a problem restricted to the homeless, hunger knows no boundaries in 2016; Philabundance member agencies like Grace Lutheran, and volunteers like Linda, fight this reality every day.
“We serve a versatile group of people,” says Linda. “But I don’t care what color your skin is, or if you have a home or not, everybody needs food.”