Antionette Lee - March 17, 2020
Since restaurants are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of food is likely to go to waste.
But hunger relief nonprofit Philabundance wants to help get the unused food to the people who need it the most.
“As opposed to having it go to waste, we would like to come in and rescue that food and get it to those in need,” said Samantha Retamar, a spokesperson for Philabundance.
She said the organization depends heavily on the kindness and support of their volunteers. But due to the governor’s orders, as well as President Donald Trump’s, to stay away from large crowds, few people are left to help.
“For the month of March, we’ve seen about 200 volunteers drop off. Right now, we’ve been relying on our staff and then putting the call out for volunteers,” she said.
Retamar said Philabundance’s services are essential — especially during this dire time — which is why they want to continue to stay open.
“There’s people who need food, there’s restaurants who have food, and we wanted to fill in that gap,” she continued. “Food Connect is a major partner of ours. It’s an app, and you can become a volunteer driver. There are a bunch of restaurants in the area and if they have excess food, they will put the food on the Food Connect app.”
Leaders at the organization have instituted some practices to keep those volunteers safe, like adding hand sanitizing stations and encouraging social distancing, among other CDC recommendations. They’re also encouraging healthy people — who are not immuno-compromised and who do not have contact with elderly people — to become volunteers.
“A lot of college students, we’re encouraging them to come in. Folks who are single, couples who are younger; healthy, showing no symptoms of cold or flu,” she explained. “The more help we can get, the better. That way we can get the food out to those who need it most, including the elderly, folks who may not have jobs right now because of the lockdown, students who are missing meals because they’re not in school.”
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