Innovative Hunger-Relief Programs Find a Home at the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market

March 19, 2018


Did you know that one in eight people in the United States may not know where their next meal is coming from? In our home-town of Philadelphia, that number is even more harrowing: one in five people face hunger in our backyard. That’s not okay with us.


Thankfully, there are organizations like Philabundance and Feeding America’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Cooperative working tirelessly to address hunger in our region – both the immediate need for food and the long term need for solutions.


Just last year, Philabundance launched a brand-new initiative in partnership with the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market (PWPM): the Food Rescue Program. Every Friday morning, volunteers gather at the market to sort through vendor’s “unsellable” produce that may have cosmetic or slight quality issues that make it undesirable for retail or foodservice markets.


These “gleaners” separate out the pieces that are still perfectly edible and repack them for distribution to Philabundance’s Fresh for All markets – free farmers markets around the city that give out a large bag of mixed produce to community members in disadvantaged neighborhoods for free, no questions asked. Since the program’s inception, volunteers have gleaned more than 300,000 pounds of produce from pallets donated by PWPM vendors!


Beyond Fresh for All, John Vena, Inc. and other PWPM vendors together donate more than 200 million pounds of produce to Philabundance each year. Now that’s a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables!


PWPM is also home to Feeding America’s newest initiative: the Mid-Atlantic Regional Cooperative (MARC). Established in the fall of 2017, this innovative cooperative leverages the buying power of food banks throughout the region. By facilitating purchases on behalf of a large number of food banks, MARC can accommodate donations of full truckloads and even negotiate volume deals to buy oversupplied or #2 product by the container. From it’s centralized distribution point at PWPM, MARC consolidates and splits product into small lots for each food bank partner in its network.


As part of the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market (PWPM), we are thrilled to support the work of these amazing organizations. You can learn more about Philabundance’s food rescue program, as well as the partnership between Philabundance and the PWPM here, and here. To learn more about Feeding America's work, click here


About Philabundance:

Philabundance is the Delaware Valley's largest hunger relief organization, serving more than 90,000 people each week in nine counties in PA and Southern NJ. Of those served, 30 percent are children, 16 percent are seniors, and adults served include students, the working poor and single parents. In 2016, Philabundance rescued more than 10 million pounds of food and distributed 23 million pounds through its own distribution programs, and a network of 350 agencies.


About Feeding America:

Feeding America is the nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. Together, they provide food to more than 46 million people through 60,000 food pantries and meal programs in communities across America. Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people they serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry.


About the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market:

The Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market is the world's largest fully-enclosed, fully-refrigerated wholesale produce terminal. The facility's main building is one-quarter of a mile long and 686,000 square feet. The facility offers the operational benefit of cold-chain protection for fresh fruits and vegetables. This assures freshness, food safety, quality, and maximizes shelf life. The market houses 24 independent produce wholesalers and distributors.


About John Vena, Inc.:

Established in 1919, John Vena, Inc. is a fourth generation family-owned and-operated specialty produce wholesaler providing a full suite of services including sourcing, custom packing, ripening, program support, marketing, and merchandising. John Vena, Inc. handles a wide range of specialty items for foodservice and retail, including fresh herbs, greenhouse vegetables, tropical fruits, ethnic produce, foraged and wild products, microgreens, edible flowers, and baby vegetables.


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