Volunteers coordinate amid COVID-19, social distancing to feed thousands in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Volunteers working to feed thousands of families in Philadelphia twice a week are adapting to major changes, including working in smaller teams due to social distancing.

The boxes of food keep rolling through the Philabundance warehouses each week to feed families in need during this critical time. It requires a massive effort of coordination every week between the city, the Share Food Program and Philabundance.

"With this collaboration with logistics and food, we've been able to open 40 separate sites across Philadelphia providing free food to people twice a week," said Philabundance spokesperson Samantha Retamar.

On Mondays, they give non-perishable items, and on Thursdays, they hand out produce. When it comes to fruit and vegetables, Philabundance is looking to provide nutritious food that lasts a little longer.

"Apples, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cabbage," Retamar said.

She said many businesses are donating the food from around the world, which would normally go to restaurants that have now scaled back operations.

"So many people have come and raised a voice saying, 'Hey, hunger has no place here, especially during a pandemic,'" Retamar said.

The main goal is to get it all packed on time at the warehouse, but right now Philabundance is having to work with half the number of volunteers.

"We've actually had to cut our volunteer shifts down to 20 people to ensure everyone can social distance while still getting the job done," Retamar said.

Retamar said Philabundance is always accepting monetary donations, which allows the organization to buy food in bulk.


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