A Collaboration for Senior Hunger Relief in Philadelphia
David Aistrop hands a Philabundance emergency food box in KleinLife's parking lot during the height of the pandemic in Spring 2020. This image was taken from the Philabundance website.
KleinLife, the largest senior center in the Greater Philadelphia area, has established a collaboration with Philabundance, a regional hunger relief organization, to address the growing demands for food insecure seniors in the community. The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia identified a lead funder to support this partnership to enhance meal delivery for vulnerable older adults. As a result of this collaboration, Philabundance will take over the job of preparing meals for the seniors that KleinLife serves to help fill the cost-effective void of volunteer-made meals.
“Prior to the pandemic, 309 seniors in the community were provided meals weekly through our home delivery program,” said Andre Krug, president and CEO of KleinLife, the Jewish community’s key provider of meal support to homebound seniors. “At the height of the pandemic, this number spiked to more than 800.”
"In the past," Krug said, "volunteers cooked the meals at the KleinLife facility, at synagogues and other locations, and they were then packaged and frozen for delivery by volunteer drivers. As a result of the pandemic, however, those volunteer efforts became difficult to maintain, prompting the need to find a partner."
Philabundance recently built a community kitchen to run a 16-week culinary training and life skills program for adults with little or no income. During a tour of the Philabundance Community Kitchen (PCK) facility, Brian Gralnick, director of social responsibility at the Jewish Federation, recognized an opportunity to more efficiently serve the food insecure by leveraging this new community resource. Thanks to a generous gift from Tony Schneider, a founder of the Jewish Federation’s Mitzvah Food Program, a new partnership was formed.
"Many of our community members are fighting to make ends meet, including our most vulnerable seniors,” said Schneider. “I’m moved by the devastating effect that the pandemic has had and was anxious to invest in a new concept that could have an immediate and meaningful impact on those most in need. The Jewish Federation's plan for a collaboration between KleinLife and Philabundance connected multiple elements – helping vulnerable seniors while also investing in the long-term success and resiliency of our community."
“We are excited to formalize a partnership with Philabundance” shared Mr. Krug. “Through this new partnership, KleinLife will be able to provide even more healthy, high-quality food while filling a void for meals in our home delivered meals program caused by the pandemic.”
Philabundance is a hunger relief organization serving Greater Philadelphia with a mission to drive hunger from our communities today and end hunger for good. In the last year, it has distributed more than 50 million pounds of food through a network of 350 partners including food pantries, houses of worship, community centers, hospitals and other service providers. Philabundance serves approximately 135,000 people each week – a number that continues to grow due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“No person in our region should have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, or if they’ll have one at all,” said Philabundance CEO Loree Jones. “COVID-19 has increased food insecurity by up to 60 percent, with many seniors having to make the difficult decision between purchasing vital medications, heating their homes or putting food on the table. Thanks to the Jewish Federation for their leadership as we expand our efforts in partnership with KleinLife so that seniors across Bucks, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties will have quality food safely delivered right to their doors.”
Melissa Greenberg, executive vice president for the Jewish Federation shared “It is always a proud moment for the Jewish Federation when we can foster innovation by partnering with a strategic philanthropist to address an urgent need within the community. We are grateful for Tony’s ongoing leadership and support.”