Please signify the type of support you are requesting from Life Science Cares:
COVID-19 Food Fund
Total Project Budget (if applicable):
In which Life Science Cares Area of Focus is the requested project’s work?
Basic Human Survival
Description of Need (What is the issue you plan to address? What are the demographics and number of people you plan to serve, if applicable?):
The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the problem of poverty in Philadelphia. The numbers are stark: there are now 2.04 million Pennsylvanians (including 630,000 children) who are food insecure. In previous years, we served 90,000 clients per week. Since the pandemic began, that number has increased to 120,000 to 150,000 clients per week, 40 percent of whom are visiting a food pantry for the first time. Throughout this past year, our staff of 112 distributed nearly 52 million pounds of food, 74% of which were “Foods To Encourage,” that promote healthy diets and lifestyles, such as fresh produce and proteins. More than half of our total pounds distributed—32,745,028—went to communities in Philadelphia; the remainder was distributed across the other eight counties within our service region. For Philabundance, the crisis has passed the “acute” stage, and we are now entering what is predicted to be a chronic period of increased food insecurity. The latest research from Feeding America shows that local food insecurity will continue to rise significantly across our entire service area, with Philadelphia County’s food insecurity rate expected to jump to 21.2% by the end of 2020—a 30% increase above 2018 levels—while the child food insecurity rate is expected to jump nearly 40 percent—from 21% to 30.6%.
Specific Activities (Please detail what activities you intend to undertake as a result of the grant. Include information about service delivery and timelines.):
Our efforts to address hunger have always focused on the communities most in need. In response to this increased and sustained need, the Philabundance board of directors passed a budget for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2020 that challenges us to distribute another 50 million pounds of food this year. We anticipate purchasing food at eight times our prior year monthly budget in order to meet this ambitious, but much-needed goal. As we prepare for an extended period of hardship, Philabundance is committed to ensuring that our clients have safe and consistent access to food resources as they focus on rebuilding their lives. To execute our COVID-19 response, Philabundance distributes food through the following programs and partnerships:
Philabundance Agency Network: In partnership with more than 350 agencies, we ensure nutritious food is available to those in need throughout our nine-county service area. In Philadelphia, we work with xxx agencies to distribute food.
The Philabundance Fresh Produce Program will distribute 19 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables this year to our member agencies throughout the Delaware Valley, allowing our clients to enjoy healthy diets.
Philabundance Community Kitchen (PCK) Since 2000, PCK has been preparing low-income adults to confidently enter the workforce and retain employment through professional culinary arts training, life skills development, and ongoing support after graduation. A vital element of our training program is our students’ rotation through our meal production department, where students practice their skills by preparing meals for the community. During the pandemic, our PCK staff and students are working 10-15 additional hours each week to prepare and distribute ready-to-eat meals for vulnerable Philadelphians—nearly doubling our meal production efforts by providing 4,200-4,500 additional meals per week. PCK is helping to meet the needs of housing and shelter agencies, as well as children, who are currently unable to receive food at school.
We are grateful for the opportunity to apply for support from Life Science Cares. A $25,000 grant from Life Science Cares would immediately be put to use to purchase food for distribution in Philadelphia.
Evaluation (What are the anticipated results? What methods will you use to measure your progress? What does success look like?):
Philabundance is measuring the success of its COVID-19 response program through the pounds of food we are able to safely distribute in the community. Your $25,000 contribution would enable us to purchase and distribute 39,000 pounds of food to Philadelphia households in need. We calculate the number of pounds of food we distribute using our inventory management system and data warehousing.
Philabundance recognizes the importance of client data tracking and plans to implement Agency Questionnaire functionality with our 350+ member agencies in our current tracking system in the coming months. This will ask agencies to provide information on clients and their needs, which will help Philabundance better understand the communities being reached. We are following the recommendations of Feeding America for this initiative. We expect to begin rollout of our data collection plan in 2021.
Does this project already have support from life science companies?
If so, what is the nature of that support? Partnerships in the life sciences are a vital component of our work to relieve hunger now. We are currently working with Health Partners Plans to supply and deliver food to vulnerable HPP members.
EFFECTIVENESS, COLLABORATION, INNOVATION
Is there any other information not captured elsewhere regarding your organization, project, program or initiatives that you believe will help the Life Science Cares team in evaluating your request?
How does your organization or program differentiate from other organizations doing similar work? Are you executing or proposing to executive an innovation in program or service?
COVID-19 demanded innovative changes to our day-to-day operations. When the crisis first began, many food pantries and emergency kitchens in our network temporarily closed, creating a bottleneck in the amount of food we were able to distribute. In response, we quickly expanded our food-purchasing program and streamlined our processes in order for disaster relief items to be brought in and held in reserve. This strategy, though costly, has paid off, and we now have a steady stream of food coming in from orders placed moving forward. We are continuing these practices into 2021.
While many of our agencies have since resumed operations, we are working to improve their capacity by purchasing and delivering refrigerators, freezers, and other equipment so they can better store and distribute larger amounts of food. We are also collaborating with our top-performing agencies to help transition them into local “hubs” that can serve smaller agencies in their area, which will help expand our reach and efficiency as we work to create a more responsive charitable food network throughout our region.
In addition to emergency food programs offered through our network of 350+ member agencies, we also worked with the City of Philadelphia to run 40 new weekly food distribution sites at convenient locations. Moreover, due to the need for social distancing, we also operated a weekly drive-thru “truck-to-trunk”-style emergency food distribution site at Citizens Bank Park. This model allowed for a minimal-contact exchange and more clients obtaining provisions, serving up to 1,300 cars per distribution. As conditions evolve, with the advent of winter and another COVID-19 spike in our region, we continue to develop new and innovative projects and programs to address the need, such as partnerships between our Philabundance Community Kitchen, agency partners, and our internal operations teams to prepare and deliver meals to seniors and other vulnerable community members through the winter.
Internally, we have significantly modified our regular warehouse and distribution operations to maintain good health and safety, following procedures recommended by the CDC, WHO, the Feeding America network, and ServSafe. We are placing regular bulk orders for a variety of sanitation products and PPE for staff, volunteers, and our agency network, including disposable masks and gloves, hand sanitizer, bleach, sanitizing wipes, and bags. During the early phase of the crisis, we also hired temporary help, and we are providing hazard pay to workers.