Site Visit and Tour of Philabundance Community Kitchen

November 30, 2022

Abeselom Gebreyesus, MPH(c), BA

November 3, 2022

The Health Care Improvement Foundation (HCIF) recently partnered with Philabundance to offer an experiential learning session to partners across two HCIF programs, COACH (Collaborative Opportunities to Advance Community Health) and Cities Changing Diabetes. This dual event brought together valued and innovative cross-sector organizations within a shared collaborative space. Our partners’ work supports HCIF’s vision of healthier communities through equitable, accessible, and quality health care.

Photo credit: Abeselom Gebreyesus, MPH(c), BA

On October 26, the Philabundance Community Kitchen hosted partner organizations from the Cities Changing Diabetes (CCD) and Collaborative Opportunities to Advance Community Health (COACH) programs. This inaugural, cross-project session brought together 11 partner organizations, all of which share overlapping programming in food access, food security, and chronic disease prevention and management. The CCD program brings together a global network of 25 cities working to curb the health burden of diabetes. In Philadelphia, the program integrates community-driven and place-based approaches across multiple sectors to address obesity and diabetes in the city’s vulnerable and underserved communities.

The Collaborative Opportunities to Advance Community Health (COACH) program brings together hospital/health system, public health, and community partners to address community health needs in southeastern Pennsylvania. Since launching in 2015, COACH has provided a forum for participants to explore collaborative implementation strategies as hospitals/health systems respond to priority needs identified through community health needs assessments (CHNAs). This month’s site visit and tour was the first in a series of COACH Experiences, a new form of programming where organizations within the collaborative host experiential learning sessions to further immerse our partners in the work being done in sites across greater Philadelphia.

Philabundance is an active partner organization in both the CCD and COACH programs.
Philabundance has been operating as one of the largest hunger relief organizations in the Greater Philadelphia area, distributing millions of pounds of food annually to those in need for nearly 40 years. Traditionally, Philabundance has focused on providing emergency food to relieve hunger across its nine-county service area in southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. In 2019, the organization expanded its mission to include a focus on long term solutions for food insecurity. Philabundance’s Community Food Access department spearheads initiatives aimed to disrupt the cycle of spending tradeoffs between food and other necessities that perpetuate food insecurity. By pairing food with the social determinants of health interventions provided by other community-based organizations, Philabundance aims to increase stability and long-term overall food security in the communities they serve, while helping to shorten lines at food distribution sites.

Philabundance Community Kitchen (PCK) is located in North Philadelphia’s Hartranft neighborhood and offers a 16-week culinary and vocational training program, which has been transforming the lives of low-to-no income individuals since 2000. Students are trained in a variety of food service environments to earn ServSafe certificates, employment and internship opportunities, and continuous support up to two years after graduation.

The session started with a tour of the counselling and professional development areas of the space, where attendees were able to learn about the various tools offered to students in the program and community members. We then visited the classrooms and training kitchens, as PCK staff walked us through the structure of the 16 week program. Lastly, the tour concluded with a walkthrough of the food storage and refrigeration areas, as well as a discussion on Philabundance’s commitment to reducing food waste and negative environmental impact. The staff was welcoming and taught attendees more about the history and impact of the Philabundance Community Kitchen. Over lunch, our collaborative participants discussed opportunities for cross-sector partnership to deepen place-based approaches layering supportive resources in spaces where communities work, learn, and live.

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