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August 03, 2023

Philabundance to be honored with community-made mural at hunger relief center in South Philly

The organization distributes more than 50 million pounds of food each year. Volunteers can join the final painting day on Aug. 9, and the mural will be unveiled on Sept. 6

Arts & Culture Murals
Mural Philabundance Provided Image/Philabundance

Philabundance's legacy and impact will be honored with a community-made mural outside of its Hunger Relief Center in South Philadelphia next month.

Philabundance has been providing fresh food to Philly and South Jersey residents experiencing food insecurity since its earliest days operating out of the back of a Subaru almost 40 years ago. 

With about 52 million pounds of food distributed to needy people each year, Philabundance has grown to become one of the largest food banks in the Delaware Valley. Next month, Philabundance's legacy and impact will be celebrated with the dedication of a community-made mural outside of its hunger relief center in South Philadelphia. 

The mural was designed by Calo Rosa, an El Salvador native whose body of work includes a set of eagles' wings at Lincoln Financial Field and Benjamin Franklin Parkway's ground mural. For this project, Rosa is showcasing an "homage to movement" with food flowing through Philabundance's warehouses and volunteers engaging with residents. 

Rosa wanted to encapsulate the "unifying power of food" and depict the community coming together to share a meal. The mural's design was chosen by Philabundance staff members, students at the Philabundance Community Kitchen, board members and community partners. It aims to show how Philabundance is ensuring that nobody goes hungry while food goes to waste, according to Mural Arts. 

"Art, in its most profound sense, has always been a powerful tool for social change," said Jane Golden, executive director of Mural Arts. "It bridges gaps, fosters understanding, and stimulates conversation. Murals like the one Calo Rosa designed are visual narratives that can illuminate pressing issues. Through this mural and our partnership with Philabundance, we can highlight food insecurity, humanize the statistics, and create a palpable sense of empathy in viewers, causing more to be engaged in tackling the serious issue of hunger in the Greater Philadelphia area." 

Philabundance was founded by Pamela Rainey Lawler in 1984 after she noticed the volume of leftover perishable food generated by restaurants, caterers, farmers markets and small grocery stores. She discovered that restaurants didn't donate their leftovers because there was no middleman to pick up and deliver the food to needy families. 

Philabundance Mural Arts DedicationProvided Image/Philabundance

This summer, residents have volunteered to paint the mural, designed by Calo Rosa, at Philabundance's warehouse in South Philly.

"We are thrilled to dedicate this beautiful mural that represents the spirit of unity, compassion and hope that defines our mission at Philabundance," said Loree Jones Brown, CEO of Philabundance. "This mural is both a work of art and a symbol of our commitment to fighting hunger and nourishing the communities we serve. With every brushstroke, we are painting a brighter future, where no one goes to bed hungry." 

Hunger is particularly grueling in Philly, with 13.6% of residents experiencing food insecurity, according to data from Feeding America. Only 32% of residents earn too much money to be eligible for food stamps. 

About 10.5% of people in the organization's service area were food insecure in 2020, with data showing that children and people of color are the most at risk of experiencing food insecurity. 

Philabundance and Mural Arts have been holding community painting days this summer. Volunteers can join the final painting day on Aug. 9. All supplies, including paint smocks, will be provided. 

The mural dedication will be held at the hunger relief center, located 3616 Galloway St., from 10 a.m. to noon on Sept. 6. There will be speeches, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and refreshments. The dedication will highlight Hunger Action Month, recognized annually in September.