Harrisburg, PA (STL.News) Governor Tom Wolf and First Lady Frances Wolf today joined Mayor Jim Kenney and local elected officials for the grand opening celebration of the Philabundance Community Kitchen (PCK). The 20,000 square foot facility is PCK’s first location in its 20-year history not shared with another entity.
“In a year that has contained a great deal of hardship, it is wonderful to have the opportunity to celebrate a new beginning,” Gov. Wolf said. “Nothing could be more appropriate than celebrating with the Philabundance community. Philabundance has remained a steadfast partner in my administration’s commitment to ensuring that every Pennsylvanian has access to plentiful, nutritious food.”
PCK is a 16-week culinary training and life skills program, providing opportunities to adults with no- to low income who need not just a job, but a second chance at life. PCK promotes the self-sufficiency of its students by preparing them for and connecting them to work in the food service industry and allows them to give back by preparing meals for those in need.
The proceeds of PCKatering, PCK’s social enterprise, benefit students, graduates and neighbors facing hunger.
At its height during COVID, PCK was providing up to 4,500 additional meals per week. These meals are distributed to a range of community agencies, including outreach meals for Project Home, the City of Philadelphia, a temporary shelter in Kensington, the Woodstock Shelter in North Philadelphia, the Hub of Hope and Federation Housing.
The Wolf Administration has lodged a concerted, multi-agency effort to help those in need of food during this pandemic. Many Pennsylvanians who never required food assistance found themselves in need during these unprecedented times. Food pantries, food banks, and organizations across the state sought help to make food available and accessible.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, more than 1.53 million Pennsylvanians experienced chronic hunger every day, including about 437,000 children.
According to new projections from Feeding America, the pandemic has helped push that number to more than 2 million Pennsylvanians, including nearly 630,000 children.
Feeding Pennsylvania member food banks have reported significant increases in the need for food assistance in their communities, with an average 65 percent increase in demand.
“We know that emergency feeding efforts are just one part of a comprehensive food security strategy, and proactive, empowering programs such as PCK truly help attack the issue of hunger right at its roots, with results stretching across generations,” First Lady Frances Wolf said. “We are thrilled to celebrate the program’s monumental growth and the possibility that it represents.”
Philabundance received $2 million in RACP funds to construct the 19,960 square foot, free-standing facility that includes 10,000 square feet of space for production and a training kitchen – both USDA certified; office and classroom space; locker rooms; ample storage and refrigeration; and flexible community space.
As the largest hunger relief organization in the Delaware Valley, Philabundance plays an essential role in helping Pennsylvanians weather the COVID-19 crisis.
“We are still fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still trying to keep our case numbers down, still waiting for a vaccine,” Gov. Wolf said. “But in the past several months we have also reopened the commonwealth. We have begun to explore a new way of living life in Pennsylvania.
“And so, it is a great pleasure for me and Frances to join in celebrating the grand opening of the Philabundance Community Kitchen’s new facility. PCK is a place that understands new beginnings and second chances.”