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Photo Credit: Jim Bennett/Getty Images.
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Michelle Obama, Philabundance partner to feed Philly families facing food insecurity

The former First Lady has been in collaboration with the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) as part of a campaign to hand out meals in various U.S…

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The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) is collaborating with former First Lady Michelle Obama on a campaign to help address food insecurity in Philadelphia. 

Throughout the pandemic, PHA has committed to transforming the food landscape in the nation in pursuit of health equity. 

Through a collaboration with former First Lady and PHA Honorary Chair Michelle Obama, and the Obamas' production company Higher Ground Productions, a campaign called “Pass the Love w/ Waffles + Mochi,” was launched to help bring that commitment to various cities with the goal of distributing 1 million ‘Pass the Love’ meal kits across the country. 

Beginning next month, that campaign will be coming to Philadelphia, as 5,000 local families will receive ‘Pass the Love’ meal kits, which will include recipes and ingredients inspired by the new Netflix children series, Waffles + Mochi

“PHA is honored to be able to serve families with good food in a format that makes it easier to cook at home,” said Nancy E. Roman, PHA President and CEO, in a statement. “PHA is working hard to create access and exposure to affordable meal making for families, laying the groundwork for the good health we all deserve.” 

Throughout the month of August, Philabundance will be helping PHA distribute 240,000 healthy meals to food-insecure Philadelphia families. 

Screenshot of a Pass the Love Meal Kit.

Food insecurity is defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in a household to live an active, healthy life, whether temporarily or long-term. 

Last July, Philabundance saw a more than 50% demand increase in traditionally food-insecure areas in Philadelphia and surrounding areas, and was on track to give out an average of 2.25 million pounds of food a month. This is compared to 1.25 million pounds during the month prior to the pandemic. 

“The ‘Pass the Love’ campaign could not come at a better time. It is especially urgent now, because of the impact the pandemic has had on both the availability and quality of food for so many in the Philadelphia region — especially children,” said Philabundance CEO Loree D. Jones, in a statement.

Due to the pandemic, as many as 42 million people may experience food insecurity in 2021 alone, according to Feeding America

PHA also announced a partnership with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to help evaluate the impact of the ‘Pass the Love’ campaign in uplifting food-insecure families, teaching new cooking skills, and fostering healthier habits. 

“Nearly one in five Philadelphians do not have enough healthy food to eat to live a healthy lifestyle, and nearly one-third of the families that come to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s (CHOP) Emergency Department report that they are food insecure,” said Madeline Bell, President and Chief Executive Officer at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, in a statement. “While we offer a number of programs that address hunger and food insecurity among Philadelphia’s children, this effort presents us with a unique opportunity to join this partnership and help families in our community tackle food insecurity.”

In the evaluation, CHOP will conduct focus groups, surveys and interviews that measure how the program impacts the ease and enjoyment of cooking at home for participating families in various cities. That research will culminate in a full report and list of recommendations that is expected to be released in Spring 2022. 

The ‘Pass the Love’ campaign was launched earlier this summer, and Philadelphia is the fourth city to take part, after Atlanta, Cleveland and Detroit. Additional cities will be announced in the coming weeks and months. The goal is to build the capacity of local nonprofits in each of those cities.

This article is part of Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project among more than 20 news organizations focused on economic mobility in Philadelphia. Read all of our reporting at brokeinphilly.org.

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