Walk Against Hunger Calls All Philadelphians to Fight Food Insecurity
Community members poured into Lincoln Financial Field to participate in The Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger’s annual walk on April 21st. The Walk Against Hunger, sponsored by Acme, is held once a year, with the goal of raising funds and awareness for people in the Philadelphia region who do not have easy access to food. Their message is simple: Hunger is Preventable.
Vendors, activities and performers surrounded the outside of the field where walkers could donate or purchase souvenirs. After the walk, food was available and trucks with fresh produce were parked outside.
The event relies solely on donations given by family, friends, and local businesses. Individuals can either donate to a team walking, or sign up to participate themselves. Over 50 teamsparticipated in the walk this year, with the Philadelphia Hunger Coalition team raising $4,468.75.
The Philadelphia Hunger Coalition was founded in 1996 and is currently overseen by Executive Director, Lauren Wall.The coalition aims to connect people with food assistance programs, as well as nutrition education and food pantry resources throughout Philadelphia. They attack hunger in a three step approach, immediate relief, short term relief and long term relief.
People in need of immediate relief are connected with the closest food pantry or soup kitchen in their area, while people in need of short term relief are guided through a Food Stamp application process.
The U.S Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as “a lack of consistent access to food for an active and healthy life”. Over one million people in Pennsylvania suffer from hunger alone, with Philadelphia being its largest food insecure city. In Philadelphia, 325,000 residents are food insecure, and one in five residents do not have easy access to meals. According to Feeding Hunger in America, Philadelphia is number ten on America’s top ten hungriest counties. In 2016, Children’s Healthwatch found that one in four families reported food insecurity and one in eight families reported food insecurity among their children.
Vernessa Wilson, a member of Mizpah Seventh-day Adventist Church has been an active advocate in Philadelphia hunger and was present at the walk with her fellow members.
“I walk because hunger does exist, and we need to let the world know that hunger is here and it is not going anywhere”, said Wilson
Just this week, Wilson visited Temple University Hospital, to give out food packages to families. In comparison to last year, she saw a more active turnout at the walk in terms of walkers, donations and vendors.
Temple alumna, Melanie Dubose, is the chief executive director of Children’s Mission which is located just a couple blocks east of Temple University.
“As members of Temple University you know that we reside in one of the most marginalized communities in this city. You should also know that 25 percent of our children live in deep poverty.”
If individuals are interested in becoming advocates, the Philadelphia Hunger Coalition accepts volunteers. Experience isn’t necessary and volunteers are able to visit soup kitchens to serve a meal, or even lend a voice to support laws and those facing food insecurity.
-Text, images and video by Mackenzie Gasper and Morgan Spicer