Connect.Share.Give. Philabundance helps connect good food to people in need

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Every morning, a tractor-trailer loaded with palates of food from local Starbucks stores pulls into the Philabundance headquarters in South Philadelphia.

"They rescue the food every night from 187 stores," Philabundance Sustainability Director Kaitlin Bowdler said. "Then, they drop it off to us in the mornings."

"To me, that's all about dignity." Bowdler says proudly, "We're able to provide the same quality food that a regular customer would go into Starbucks and receive."

It is hard to believe, but each year Philabundance estimates 40 percent of the nation's food supply goes to waste, while one in five Philadelphians goes hungry.

The partnership with Starbucks is the latest front in Philabundance's war against food waste.

"Of the 26 million pounds we distribute annually, 75 percent of that is food that otherwise would have gone to waste," Bowdler says. The region's largest hunger-relief agency now rescues food from grocery stores, restaurants and small retailers like Starbucks, Reading Terminal Market and Philadelphia International Airport.
Philabundance also partners with Lancaster County farmers, turning surplus milk into artisan cheese that's then distributed to Philabundance clients.

"We have five cheeses that are a part of our Abundantly Good product line," Bowdler says.

Every Friday morning, volunteers hit the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market in Southwest Philadelphia.

"We're getting our hands dirty and making a difference," says volunteer Monika Crosby.

Volunteers look through food that has been labeled as unsellable.

"It may have some scarring. It may be misshapen. It may be oddly sized," explains Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market General Manager Daniel Kane.

But it is still perfectly edible.

"This is high-quality food that just otherwise couldn't have been sold," Bowdler said. "So now we're just making sure we find a home for it. It's a win-win."
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