Hundreds of food boxes handed out in Philadelphia Thursday

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Decked out in face masks and latex gloves, hundreds of people wrapped around the United bank of Philadelphia in West Philadelphia Thursday morning to pick up a box of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Put on by the People's Emergency Center (PEC) organizers say food access is an ongoing problem in low-income communities with COVID-19 creating a true crisis.

"We're down to one grocery store in this neighborhood full service. It's about a mile and a half, two miles away. The other grocery store that was about a half a mile away closed earlier this year," said James Wright, PEC's director of community development. "I think access is the main thing and then you can only imagine the economic stress people are under."

Wright says each household received a box, no questions asked. He says volunteers handed out about 400 boxes.

"This is what we do in general, do outreach in the neighborhood to help provide needs and strengthen assets but now it's something totally different," Wright said. "And so being a part of this effort is just great."

Wright says the food relief program is a partnership between the City of Philadelphia, Philabundance, SHARE and other community partners.

With so many recipients today, Wright said the 6-foot social distancing rule was a big concern.

"We're asking people to use the lines in the sidewalk to space themselves, so it's a constant reminder," he said.
Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.