Glenn Bergman, Executive Director of Philabundance, discussed one of the country’s largest food rescue and distribution efforts that produced over 4 million meals to the area last year. He discussed its start, as a restaurant gleaning project, and how it grew to become a model for distributing food to the needy. We talked about hunger in the Delaware Valley and how it’s in every zip code – even the wealthiest neighborhoods can suffer as assets can disqualify the unemployed from qualifying for assistance, and how college students worry about food insecurity. Glenn described the Philabundance operation, rescuing good, ripe food from the Philadelphia port that would otherwise be lost, working with groceries and distributors to collect pounds and then distribute them to their partnering food banks and local pantries.
Glenn discussed food advocacy, working to reduce food waste and to protect SNAP – now in debate. He points out that every SNAP purchase helps support farmers, the food industry and local retailers.
We also discussed the Community Kitchen job training program that brings in employment-disadvantaged people, including the recently released incarcerated to train as sous chefs, they leave with sanitation certification and the culinary skills to work in the restaurant industry. He suggested that listeners consider using their catering service, PCKatering ( https://www.philabundance.org/about/philabundance-community-kitchen/pckatering/ )
for their next catering job. They boast an 82% employment rate from graduates!
Glenn also hit on new ventures Philabundance is developing, the ‘Abundantly Good’ brand of products that pairs area dairies with retailers, the dairies use their surplus milk to produce cheese under the Philabundance brand, some is sold in retailers with a percentage going back to the pantries, and some is donated directly to Philabundance. They are working on creating a similar sauce product with farmers to salvage gleaned tomatoes. Finally, he spoke on the new ‘Food Connect’ app which will allow restaurants and caterers to advertise food – area shelters would be able to claim food that would otherwise go to waste. He also asked for volunteers – for food drives and warehouse positions!
While a dollar given directly to them goes further thanks to their buying power, he offered the Top 10 items Philabundance and other pantries need in food drives.
PHILABUNDANCE ( www.philabundance.org )
If you are in need, learn about services and food banks in your area at 1-866-3-HUNGRY