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Philabundance was full of activity on MLK Day of Service 2021. Photo: Brittany Valentine/Al Día News

The Bidens come to Philabundance for MLK Day of Service

The future president and first lady came to South Philadelphia on Jan. 18 to package food for hunger relief in the region.

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In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, President-elect Joe Biden and future First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden made a visit to Philadelphia’s largest hunger relief organization, Philabundance, to pack boxes of food that will be distributed to community members experiencing food insecurity. 

Loree Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Philabundance, felt that the Bidens’ visit was incredible, especially since they brought their daughter and grandkids to the event to celebrate this national day of service. 

“Philadelphia is the place to do King Day of Service, because it started here,” Jones exclaimed. “We all know that one of our favorite quotes from Dr. King is that ‘everybody can be great, because everybody can serve,’ and we saw that today.”

Jones said that a wide range of volunteers were working the event on Jan. 18, including veterans, and people who were formally food insecure. 

The food boxes consisted of dairy products such as milk and butter, produce such as potatoes, apples and oranges, as well as staples of rice and beans. 

The President-elect was on “beans duty” and Dr. Jill Biden was on “rice duty.” 

The Bidens were able to pack about 150 boxes, and another 50 were packed by Philabundance staff that will then be sent out to community members throughout South Jersey, South Pennsylvania and Delaware County.

According to Jones, the event came about because the Presidential Inaugural Committee has been working with one of Philabundances’ partners, Feeding America. The committee reached out to Philabundance and expressed their concern with national food insecurity, with the intent to take action. 

A national hunger crisis is one of the many Biden will have to tackle as president that has only worsened since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Jones said that there’s been a 60% increase in people facing food insecurity, and 40% of these people are facing this issue for the first time. 

“What’s happening in America is that everyday folks are making those tough decisions, deciding whether they’re going to pay rent or buy food. And I think [the presidential committee] wanted to highlight that, they wanted to help us understand that the way we can serve and honor King is by providing families in America access to food,” Jones said.

Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America feels that the services that the future First Family provided today will do wonders for visibility of the issues.

“We need people to be aware there’s a problem and then we need to do something about the problem, once we have that awareness,” Babineaux-Fontenot said.

Babineaux-Fontenot had the opportunity to speak to the President-elect about the work that’s already being done at Philabundance and she educated him further about the local and national food security needs. 

Biden spoke of a commitment to put in place some legislation that will be designed to address a lot of the food insecurity issues, especially when it relates to children. 

“I hope that this heightened awareness will come with heightened empathy and I hope that empathy will remove some of the stigma,” said Babineaux-Fontenot.



 

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