A Beacon of Hope for Hunger Relief in Philadelphia
Monday, November 30, 2009
According to a recent census, Philadelphia’s poverty rate is “roughly double” the national figure. The city’s largest hunger-relief organization, Philabundance, estimates that 25.1 percent of Philadelphians are below the poverty line – a rate that is highest among the 10 biggest U.S. cities. To address this issue, a group of Saint Joseph’s University students and faculty partnered with Philabundance to develop a new food distribution model to reach Philadelphia’s hungry more efficiently.
Studies have shown that the current community food model, the pantry line, isn’t sufficiently meeting the needs of Philadelphia’s hungry. To improve the pantry system, Martin Meloche, Ph.D., associate professor of food marketing at Saint Joseph’s, and William Clark, president and executive director of Philabundance, worked with students to devise a solution.
The students developed a model where residents in need are able to choose from available items rather than take a prepared box or bag of food, which is the pantry line’s current model. A priority for both the University and Philabundance, according to Meloche, was to develop a concept that “provided the clientele with access to food in an efficient and dignified manner.” Both organizations believe the CFC accomplishes this objective.
Meloche anticipates the surge of holiday donations to food banks will support the CFC’s efforts to meet the needs of the immediate community. However, he stresses the importance of feeding the hungry throughout the year. “Even though the influx of holiday donations is generous, the hungry have serious needs during the remainder (and majority) of the year,’ explains Meloche. “More people go hungry during these other parts of the year, because that extra holiday aid isn’t coming in,” he says.
To volunteer or donate this holiday season, or any time of year, visit http://www.philabundance.org/.