Baseball may be on hold, but the Philadelphia Phillies, Citizens Bank and Philabundance are still taking their swings at fighting hunger this spring.
The three partners are teaming up to host the Phans Feeding Families Virtual Food Drive in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead of rounding the bases, the effort is rounding up food to feed local residents. And this time, it’s being done virtually.
“Since 2011, Citizens Bank and the Phillies have helped Philabundance fight hunger across the Delaware Valley through the Phans Feeding Families campaign,” said Sara Hertz, Philabundance chief development officer. “With the COVID-19 pandemic increasing hunger across the region, we are grateful for the continued support from Citizens Bank and the Phillies during these difficult times.”
Citizens Bank Mid-Atlantic President Daniel K. Fitzpatrick kicked off the food drive last week with a $40,000 contribution from the bank. Officials say it will provide up to 80,000 meals to individuals and families in desperate need.
“We are proud to support Philabundance as they work tirelessly to feed the many families in our community who are facing heightened food insecurity as a result of this crisis,” Fitzpatrick said. “We are calling for our neighbors to show their support from home by donating to this critical cause.”
Community members can contribute to the effort by visiting and donating at philabundance.org/phans-feeding-families/ through June 1.
For the last 10 years, the Phillies have hosted Phans Feeding Families Day during a regular season game in South Philadelphia. This year, since games have been suspended due to the pandemic, the effort switched to a virtual drive.
Phillies ace Aaron Nola, who would likely have been the Phillies starter on Opening Day, is playing a key role in the food drive. He is featured in two public service announcements to support the cause.
“With the COVID-19 crisis, families are struggling more than ever to put food on their table,” said Nola. “It’s important we do all that we can to help those who need it most. I encourage our fans to join the Phillies, Citizens Bank and Philabundance and be a part of our Phans Feeding Families Virtual Food Drive, as no one should go to bed hungry.”
Items such as rice, peanut butter and vegetables continue to be the most needed items by Philabundance, which operates out of South Philadelphia and is one of the Delaware Valley’s largest hunger relief organizations. It serves more than 90,000 people each week and last year, it distributed more than 26 million pounds of food through a network of 350 partners, and partnerships with hospitals, schools, libraries and other service providers.
The Phans Feeding Families effort has been a big contributor to those numbers. Since it began in 2011, the program has raised more than $500,000. To date, with fan support of funds and food, more than 1 million meals have been provided to families in need.
The virtual effort is hoping to boost those numbers.
“The need for food is at an all-time high,” said Phillies Executive Vice President David Buck. “In the Philadelphia area, one of every five of our neighbors has no idea where their next meal will come from – and it’s something we need to change. With the Phans Feeding Families Virtual Food Drive, we hope to make a difference. We thank our fans, partners and Aaron Nola for joining us in this important initiative.”