COVID-19 pandemic creates greater need for food in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- You don't have to look hard to see the impact of the pandemic this holiday. Dozens of West Philadelphia residents left empty-handed Thursday night from a free turkey giveaway.

"We hadn't even gotten up to the door. We were at the corner and they told us the turkeys had run out," said Christina Potter.

Hundreds of people snaked around the block at 62nd and Cedar Avenue.

One hundred fifty turkeys were given out in less than an hour. This is the first of six food giveaways organized by Councilmember Jamie Gauthier's office to help those in need.

"We ran out pretty quickly," said Stephanie Brownie, director of communications for Gauthier. "With the pandemic, this just goes to show how intense the need is here in our community in West Philadelphia."

The region's largest hunger-relief organization, Philabundance, tells Action News in a typical year they distribute 28 million pounds of food. In the last six months of this pandemic, they've given out 30 million pounds.

"With the recent new restrictions and we're thinking unemployment rates are going up and people are choosing, 'do I pay my rent, utilities or buy food?'" said Loree Jones, CEO of Philabundance.

Philabundance is also in need of donations, themselves, to keep pace with the demand for help.

"We're counting on things like camp out, everyday people sending in small in large donations so that we can meet that need," said Jones.
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