Philabundance group shot

Submitted by: Shenneth Dove-Morse

On Tuesday, September 24, 20 YPN members spent their evening helping to package food for Philabundance, a local hunger relief organization. Upon arriving at the Philabundance warehouse, volunteers watched a short introductory video on the organization before getting to work. YPN volunteers were tasked with inspecting corn and placing it in boxes that would total 20 pounds each. YPN was told that workers typically complete an average of 12 bins per shift with the aid of a conveyer belt. The YPN volunteer group completed 9 bins during their shift without the aid of a conveyor belt which amounted to 4,560 pounds of corn that will be distributed to people in need of food.

I can easily say that I saw more ears of corn at Philabundance than I have ever seen in my life. But as all the volunteers sifted through huge bins with thousands of pounds of corn, all we could do was chat with fellow volunteers and occasionally ask each other, “Should this piece of corn be boxed or put aside for composting?” A little music, some box making, box lifting, corn shucking, and conversation made for a memorable evening. YPN members were inspired by the mission of Philabundance and agreed that their volunteer experience at Philabundance was an enjoyable one.

“The opportunity was a lot of fun. It’s always great to volunteer time to help people and also meet other members of YPN,” said Gina Parissi, a YPN member.

“We did a lot of good work today. We put a lot of food away which will enable Philabundance to help people in need,” said Joe Boxman, YPN’s volunteer committee co-chair.

“I would just like to thank all the volunteers for coming out and giving a helping hand. It’s the time commitment of volunteers like us that helps this organization provide food for the 61,000 people in the region in need,” said Monet Thomas-Anderson, a YPN volunteer committee member.

Started in 1984, Philabundance feeds 78,000 people per week in the Delaware Valley. In 2012, the organization distributed 25 million pounds of food. Hunger is an issue that many people face locally and nationally. According to Philabundance, 1 in 3 Americans struggle at some point with hunger or food access. Philabundance receives food donations from farms, manufacturers and importers, retailers and wholesalers, and community food drives. The donated food is later packaged for distribution so it can be used in communities in the area. Philabundance also has a community kitchen where people can receive culinary arts vocational training. The food prepared at the community kitchen supplies meals to agencies and area emergency kitchens serving people with food insecurity.

“Without volunteers, I wouldn’t have a job,” says Brandon Madden one of the staff members who oversaw the work of the volunteers for the evening.

“Having volunteers come here is a blessing for us. We can get the job done and get food to people in need,” says Gerald Tieyah, a volunteer coordinator for Philabundance. Gerald went on to say that Philabundance has approximately 16,000 volunteers per year who pitch in to help fulfill their mission.

“Volunteers come in and often never see the people they are helping, but they do work that helps feed hungry people. We need the manpower of the volunteers to get the food out to people in need,” said Tieyah.

YPN volunteers were encouraged by Philabundance staff to come back to volunteer again. We hope you’ll spread the word and volunteer too! If you are interested in learning more about Philabundance’s work or volunteering, visit their website or call 215-339-0900.