Autumn is here and with the cooler temperatures, one’s thoughts turn to harvest time and filling the cupboards for the holiday season and potentially harsh winter. While we are replenishing our pantries with canned chili, soups, stews and other cold weather staples, the supplies of those much needed items dwindle from the shelves of local food banks.
SEPTA customers can help the authority “Stock the Shelves” of Philabundance by participating in SEPTA’s fifth annual “Stop Hunger at Your Station” food drive from October 7-21.
“At this time of year, many people are prepping their own kitchens for the holiday and winter seasons, stocking up on hearty canned and dry foods. They aren’t looking at their cabinets to see what extra items they might have to donate to the local food bank,” said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey. “That means that donations to Philabundance are diminishing. The items we collect through the ‘Stop Hunger at Your Station’ food drive are crucial in helping Philabundance feed families across our region by keeping the shelves filled and the doors of its almost 500 member agencies open.”
SEPTA employee ambassadors and Philabundance volunteers were joined by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter today at a kick-off hunger rally at City Hall.
“Hundreds of thousands of Philadelphians struggle with food insecurity or hunger every day. Combating hunger in our communities requires year-round dedication and comprehensive, sustainable efforts,” said Mayor Nutter. “For the last five years, SEPTA and Philabundance have partnered on the ‘Stop Hunger at Your Station’ food drive to increase resources at Philabundance supported food pantries, kitchens and cupboards. I want to encourage every Philadelphian to extend a helping hand to the vulnerable people in our city and help fight hunger.”
Philabundance provides food to approximately 72,000 people per week through member agencies such as food cupboards, shelters and emergency kitchens. Of the low-income area residents served by the organization, 16 percent are senior citizens and 23 percent are children. The recent government shutdown, coupled with reductions in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits that go into effect on November 1, mean that in addition to those who already rely on Philabundance to help feed their families, even more Greater Philadelphia region residents could be reaching out to the organization and the agencies its serves for assistance.
“October is a critical time for Philabundance in terms of stocking shelves. This time last year, we experienced a dry food shortage forcing us to pull from our reserves and purchase enough food to supply to families in need,” said Philabundance President and Executive Director Bill Clark. “The expiration of the stimulus package on November 1 will mean a reduction in SNAP [food stamp] benefits, which means $39 less per month for a family of four, and further cuts are still being proposed in the Farm Bill. This fall families will stress about the upcoming holidays and higher utility bills, in addition to having less resources to help them put food on the table, which means more people will turn to Philabundance for help, so please help us stock the shelves.”
From October 7-21, SEPTA will collect donations of canned goods in marked barrels at 42 designated stations throughout the transit system. CCT customers wishing to participate will be able to give their canned good contributions to their vehicle operator. A specially-wrapped “Stop Hunger at Your Station” SEPTA bus will also tour the region throughout the food drive, collecting donations.
In 2012, SEPTA’s customers and employees contributed 19 tons of food – or 37,915 meals. Since 2009, SEPTA customers and employees have donated more than 65 tons to Philabundance. The community can participate in the 2013 drive by contributing items including canned/shelf-stable tuna; canned pasta; canned beef stew; canned chili; creamy peanut butter (plastic containers only, please); jelly (plastic containers only, please); canned green beans; canned corn; and canned fruit.
The public can also make a donation to Philabundance online to help feed neighbors in need. Any monetary contribution will count toward the total collected through the SEPTA 2013 campaign.
Philabundance is the Greater Philadelphia region’s largest hunger-relief organization. In 2012, Philabundance distributed 25 million pounds of food across the Delaware Valley.
If you know someone in need of food assistance, tell them to call (800) 319-FOOD (3663). For any other questions about Philabundance, click here.
For a list of SEPTA food drive donation locations and the wrapped bus tour schedule, click here.