Exploring Nutrition Spring Food Drive Provides Relief

Many women and children find themselves struggling to find food. This is a problem across Philadelphia and in the Germantown area. For Face to Face volunteers Molly Mahon and Maureen Fanning, this is why they got involved.

“I hate seeing women and children that are food insecure,” said Fanning. “Thinking about how they got there just makes me sad and I want to do something to help them.”

This is exactly what Fanning did. In 2012, Fanning and Mahon joined Pheed Philadelphia in order to make a difference.

“After joining Pheed Philadelphia we started volunteering at soup kitchens around the area and Face to Face is one of the main locations we go to,” said Mahon.

Face to Face is a non-profit organization that focuses on human services and they are dedicated to the “health, well-being, and stability of our community,” Face to Face

The health and well-being of the Germantown area is a common concern. This is why La Salle’s Exploring Nutrition project set up the Germantown Hunger Network. – Newsworks

This network is a combination of all of the organizations and non-profits in the area all working separately towards the same goal.

“All these programs that we are putting a ton of money into, a ton of energy, a ton of smart people, smart ideas, aren’t working in the same neighborhood so how is that going to have any sort of impact on feeding Philadelphians,” said Tom Wingert, founder of the Germantown Hunger Network.

In addition to the many organizations in the area, La Salle will add to it the groups involved in the Exploring Nutrition project including nutrition students, fraternities, and those in the Leadership and Global Understanding program.

The LGU program takes the lead on organizing a food drive each year to bring food to the surrounding food banks. The Fresh Grocer provides the food given out.

“It took a lot of planning to take the lead in organizing such a big food drive,” said LGU student Catherine Buck. “But I feel like we have such a big impact on so many lives that it makes it worth it.”

The impact Buck hopes to make is being able to change the eating habits of local Philadelphians even in the slightest.

“People around here just don’t have the ability to get the healthy food that they need because it’s expensive to get vegetables and fruit,” said Buck. “And keeping it fresh is a whole other story.”

This is one of the biggest problems that causes hunger and not only in the Germantown area. There are three causes of unhealthy eating including not having the knowledge of what to eat, how to eat, and how to cook, not having the money to pay for food that is healthy, and above all is not having the time to take the effort to cook a healthy meal.

“Three top reasons; No money, don’t feel like you have skills, don’t feel like you have time,” said Director of La Salle Nutrition Jule Anne Henstenburg.

Many people try to educate about how to eat healthy including nutritionists stationed at grocery stores such as Henstenburg and even First Lady Michelle Obama hopes to improve education about what is healthy with the new labels.

“The updates announced today support the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Initiative in its ongoing efforts to provide parents and families with access to information that helps them make healthier choices,” said a White House representative.

Once people have the knowledge about what to eat and how to eat right, this cannot be done if they don’t have the money to buy the foods they need. One solution to this problem is the food stamps provided by the national government.

“I used to be able to last through a month on my food stamps and buy what I needed to buy,” said Philadelphia resident David Harris. “Now I can’t”

In 2013, food stamps were cut back and SNAP benefits will be about $1.40 less per person per meal in 2014. –CBPP 

This is where the food pantries and food drives organized by LGU students come in. With less funding from the government, people rely more on food pantries.

Kimberly Johns lives in the Logan section of Philadelphia with her three children and since buying fruits and vegetables is too expensive after a $36/month cut back in SNAP benefits she needs to rely on pantries to get the healthy foods she needs. –Newsworks

With the food from Fresh Grocer, LGU students and other members of the Exploring Nutrition project set out to bring fresh carrots, potatoes, and much more to the dozen sites in the Germantown area.

Members of Face to Face such as Mahon and Fanning spend six days a week at soup kitchens volunteering and trying to make a difference, but this annual LGU and Exploring Nutrition food drive is a special time for the people of Germantown.

“It’s nice to get some extra food every spring for the people around here,” said Fanning. “I’m so glad Exploring Nutrition does this because it means a lot to see how happy the people who receive the food are.”

Although there are a lot of problems still in regard to providing healthy food options for the people of Philadelphia, the Exploring Nutrition project and food drive is able to make a difference.

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