6,500 meals distributed in Philadelphia as new food initiative expands nationwide

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The organizers of a quickly expanding food initiative to feed vulnerable families have taken steps in Philadelphia by providing 6,500 free meals.

A long line of cars at the pick-up site at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children was another example of the need for food in Philadelphia during the COVID-19 crisis.

In total, roughly 6,500 boxed meals were given out for free Friday morning.

"It's a blessing first off because the pandemic hit everybody really hard. It hit us unknowingly, really," said Aimmisha Green.

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Green was first in line with her family and said her doctor at the hospital told her about the giveaway.

"Since then, St. Chris has been blessing our families with things," Green said.

All of the boxed meals were made possible through an initiative called Project Isaiah, which was created by Blair Christie and Devon Spurgeon- two volunteers.

"A month ago if anyone had said we'd be talking to you in Philadelphia, I would've never believed it. It's something I felt called to do in this situation," said initiative cofounder Devon Spurgeon.

Christie and Spurgeon said they're partnering with an airline food company called Gate Gourmet.

This partnership has allowed workers at Gate Gourmet to stay employed, according to Christie and Spurgeon. They said employees are now creating meals for those in dire need.

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These meals are delivered to community-based, non-profit partners, including St. Christopher's Hospital, who are looking for assistance to address food scarcity in their communities.

"We are in our fourth week and we've delivered over almost 770,000 meals across 11 cities," Christie said.

This is their first week of providing meals in Philadelphia, but they're planning to return to additional sites next week. Food distribution is already occurring in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco and Washington DC.

Project Isaiah survives through a number of donations, corporate sponsors, and community partnerships like the hospital," Christie said.

"It's nice to do something else other than fight this virus and to put our minds back to our community, is almost like a rescue from the fight that we've been under," said Ron Dreskin, CEO of St. Christopher's Hospital for Children.

Project Isaiah will be partnering with a number of other organizations and companies in the coming weeks. The goal is to increase donations while providing at least 25,000 additional meals to families in Philadelphia.

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