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Philabundance expands effort with Citizens Bank Park drive-through

Boxes of produce and loaves of bread prepped for clients and volunteers filling a car.

It could be a while before the first pitch is thrown at Citizens Bank Park. But lines of cars have already started entering the parking lots for a different reason, thanks to a new free-food initiative by Philabundance.

Prior to the pandemic, the South Philadelphia hunger relief organization was serving more than 90,000 people each week of all ages. Philabundance is ramping up its efforts and is using a drive-through method at the stadium to help residents receive vital food once a week while keeping a safe social distance. Philabundance officials say the increase in food-insecure clients has increased by 60 percent during the pandemic.

A drive-through approach is helping fight those numbers on a mass scale.

“This is the first time Philabundance has done a drive-through-style emergency food distribution in its 35-year history,” explained Samantha Retamar, Philabundance public relations associate. “This ‘truck-to-trunk’ effort allows Philabundance to distribute food to clients on a mass scale, implement social distancing and serve vulnerable populations like the elderly and immunocompromised in a safe way.”

Philabundance kicked off the initiative on May 29 and will open its food distribution site in the ballpark’s Parking Lot N, located off 7th Street and Pattison Avenue, every Friday.

Residents can pick up one share of food provisions in their vehicle on Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. while supplies last. One share equals about 35 pounds of food. Each share will contain perishable food, such as bread, produce and dairy products.The food will come in multiple boxes broken up by product type, and up to 1,600 vehicles will be served each week.

Attendees will not be asked to show identification or documentation.

The new drive-through site will build on the City of Philadelphia’s partnership with Philabundance to respond to address food insecurity. Over the last two months, the 40 food sites supported by the City, Philabundance and Share Food Program have distributed over 258,000 free boxes of food to residents.

Lines of cars wait for food prior to the 9 a.m. start of distribution at Philabundance’s Citizens Bank Park location.

It marks the first time Philabundance is hosting a drive-through-style emergency food distribution. In order to maintain safe social distancing for the safety of staff, clients and volunteers, only people arriving in vehicles will be served. And only one share will be given to each vehicle if multiple families show up within the same car. Those arriving on foot or by public transportation will be redirected to food pantries, which are open on Fridays.

For a comprehensive list of food resources, visit whyhunger.org or auntbertha.com. Philadelphia residents can call 311 or visit phila.gov/food/ to be connected with local resources.

For more information on this emergency food distribution, visit philabundance.org/covid19/.

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