PHILADELPHIA — The largest food bank in its region, Philabundance recognizes the importance of delivering fresh produce to underserved communities.
This year it launched Fresh For All, a program that delivers fresh fruits and vegetables directly to people in areas with limited access to essential foods.
Strategically located near the city's port of entry to accept donated imported fresh produce, the food bank is distributing 18,000 pounds of produce each week to 1,100 households through the new program.
“There are a lot of impoverished neighborhoods that do not have the ability to access fresh produce, which is so highly coveted and a high-value nutrient,” said Martha Buccino, vice president of the food bank.
The produce is distributed through farmers' markets set up in five locations in Willingboro, Salem and Camden, N.J., and in Woodlyn and Sharon Hill, Pa.
Share the Harvest is another fresh produce program from Philabundance that has been run since 1992. It is modeled on the “victory gardens” of World Wars I and II that were planted to reduce the drain on the public food supply due. Share the Harvest encourages home gardeners to grow extra vegetables or collect any surplus vegetables from their harvest to donate. Last year the program, which runs from July through September, raised a ton of extra produce for families in need.
According to Philabundance, 900,000 individuals in the Delaware Valley region face hunger. Last year the food bank distributed 24 million pounds of food through 600 agencies. It has an annual budget of $7.2 million. Supervalu's Acme Markets, Malvern, Pa., contributes funding to Philabundance through Food For All and also makes food donations. Acme's Food For All contributions will total $50,000 for the 2008 fiscal year, according to Food For All officials. Figures were not available for the previous two years.
“It is a great program, and gives Acme customers an opportunity to make a donation at the register. It heightens consumer awareness that while they are taking food home, there are others that can't afford to do so. Shoppers can feel comfortable in making dollar donations that add to everybody's table,” said Buccino.