Overcoming hunger during the holidays

DRCC organizes food drive, partners with River Wards and Northeast Philly businesses to support Bridesburg Food Pantry

Star News | By Melissa Komar

Existing as a nonprofit often means depending on grants and the generosity of others.

The Delaware River City Corporation is one of those nonprofits and, having experienced the benevolence of the community firsthand, decided to spread the goodwill this holiday season.

Through Jan. 5, DRCC will partner with businesses in the River Wards and Northeast Philly to host a food drive to benefit the Bridesburg Community Food Pantry.

“We recently did Giving Tuesday, which was a fundraiser for ourselves. As a nonprofit, we’re pretty much always fundraising for our organization,” said Stephanie Bennett, program manager at DRCC, “so, we decided to do something different this holiday season and raise funds for another organization that is making a difference in our community.”

DRCC is responsible for developing the North Delaware Riverfront Greenway, an 11-mile trail that will stretch from Pulaski Park in Port Richmond to the Glen Foerd Mansion in Torresdale when complete.

Part of the mission includes interacting with the community through various events, so DRCC was familiar with the work of the food pantry and moved by statistics provided by Philabundance, the agency that supplies the food pantry, located in the lower level of the Bridesburg United Methodist Church.

“According to Philabundance, more than 700,000 people are food-insecure in our area, so some of these people are definitely living in our neighborhoods, the neighborhoods we engage on our trails and in our parks. So, we wanted to do something to give back.”

The Bridesburg Food Pantry, 2717–19 Kirkbride St., serves between 300 and 380 individuals from the 19134 and 19137 ZIP codes each week, according to volunteers at the food pantry.

“Obviously, it’s located right in our backyard, but they are doing amazing things that help hundreds of people from Port Richmond and the Bridesburg area who are in need each week,” Bennett said. “And, in addition to providing food, they also sell discounted clothes, shoes, household necessities and baby items. They’re just doing really great things in our community.”

To support the efforts of the food pantry, DRCC is seeking non-perishable donations such as peanut butter, cooking oil, canned fruits and vegetables, rice, and whole grain pasta.

Boxes to collect donations are located at the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion, 8046 Frankford Ave.; Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse, 7500 State Road; the Bridesburg Recreation Center, 4601 Richmond St.; ABV% Beverage, 3421 Richmond St.; Byrne’s Tavern, 3301 Richmond St.; and River Wards Cafe, 3118 Richmond St.

Businesses were selected based on previous projects.

“[Those businesses] are always so eager to get involved and give back to their community,” Bennett said.

John Cambridge, CEO at the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion, saw the food drive as an extension of an already productive partnership.

“The museum has been working closely with the DRCC for the past year and we were eager to support their food drive as soon as they reached out to us about it,” Cambridge said. “The DRCC and the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion have collaborated on nature walks, environmental education workshops, and several other beneficial community programs … the food drive was a natural next step.”

For Cambridge, operating a business in the community means giving back.

“The museum is a proud member of the Northeast Philadelphia community and works hard to support the schools, residents and other businesses in the area. The DRCC food drive is designed to help the Bridesburg Food Pantry and we work to serve the same communities that they do,” he said. “We are also hoping our participation in this food drive will help bring awareness about the hunger issues in our community.”

Monetary donations will also be accepted to combat those hunger issues.

“All the money goes straight to Bridesburg Food Pantry,” Bennett said. “It’s so important to consider donating money instead of food because [the food pantry] actually buy at wholesale prices, so they get much more out of a dollar than you could at any grocery store. And, they’re able to get exactly what they need. So, every dollar counts.”

DRCC will update its website and Facebook throughout the food drive to reflect how much food and donations have been collected.

The goal is to collect at least $250 in monetary donations and more than 100 pounds of food.

“A big part of our mission is to build a shared backyard that provides community-building activities on our trail and in our parks,” Bennett said. “Even though this project isn’t physically happening on the North Delaware Riverfront trail, it’s still bringing our neighborhoods together. And that’s the main goal, just to bring people together and give back.”

For more details on the inaugural DRCC Holiday Food Drive, visit drcc-phila.org. Non-perishable items can be dropped off at any participating locations during regular business hours through Jan. 5. Monetary donations can be made online at drcc-phila.org/donate. Include “2017 Food Drive” in the comments line.