A lot of the time, we can get pretty selfish about our food and easily forget that many people don’t have the same access to food that we do, in terms of taste, quality, nutritional value, and variety. Then, articles like today’s Inquirer piece about Philadelphia’s homeless population come along, and snap things into sharp focus.
Apparently, the city of Brotherly Love kind of lives up to its name when it comes to homelessness, which is heartening! Where other American cities are dealing with rising homelessness by outlawing associated activities (loitering, sleeping on benches, etc.), Philly has taken a more laissez-faire approach, and doesn’t treat homelessness as a crime. So. We’re very glad to hear that our city isn’t implementing draconian edicts that don’t do anything to solve the problem. That said, once our moment of pride had passed, we got to wondering: if Philly is relatively tolerant of the homeless, what, if anything is going on to help feed them, as well as the just plain needy?
After the jump, the very, very tiniest tip of the iceberg.
Well, first, as context, we found out that the number of people receiving hunger relief in the Delaware Valley has increased 100% since 2005. This can either be read as good (more people who need food are getting it!), or sobering (the number of people who need food assistance is rising). The bright-ish side of things is that there are actually a number of hunger relief programs in the Philly area.
The most prominent one is probably Philabundance, which collects food throughout the region and distributes it to member agencies like food cupboards, shelters, and emergency kitchens. It’s possible to volunteer with them, help run food drives, and donate money. We are most intrigued by their “Share The Harvest” program, which “asks local and community gardeners to grow extra fuits and vegetables or collect any surplus produce from their gardens to donate towards the fight against hunger.” They also hold a “Canstruction” fundraiser, in which teams of architects and engineers build elaborate structures out of cans of food, and all proceeds go to Philabundance. (Yes, the pictured banana split is almost all-can.)
What else? The Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger provides education, outreach, and advocacy. SHARE Food Program is sort of like the ultimate food co-op. Finally, our CSA donates the inevitable surplus of veggies to a local church. We would bet that other CSAs do this as well, so if you have a share in one, now might be a good time to humbly pat yourself on the back for both supporting sustainable local agriculture and doing your part to fight hunger.
Phila. More Tolerant Of Homeless Than Other Cities [Philadelphia Inquirer]
[Photo: Mark Busse/flickr]