$75 helps Caring for Friends share one week of groceries with 50 families experiencing food insecurity.
Caring for Friends
Caring for Friends is a 46-year-old, Food Bank, Prepared/Senior Meals Program, and Caring Kitchen (501c3 – EIN: 23-2072722). Our mission is to provide food and friendship to seniors, kids and adults in Greater Philadelphia. Our support volunteers and staff sort, pack and share food donated to us by food organizations, grocers, corporations, and communities six days a week.
Food is packed, stored, and redistributed from our 30,000+ sq. ft. warehouse in NE Philadelphia. Often the food is at peak ripeness upon arrival and needs to be processed quickly. Our kitchen manager and volunteers prepare both congregate (buffet trays) and individual (TV dinner-style) meals in our on-site, 2,000+ sq ft professional kitchen.
OUR NONPROFIT’S SITE INCLUDES LOADING DOCKS, TRUCKS, ABILITY TO TAKE/PICK-UP PALLET LOADS OF FOOD PRODUCT OF ALL KINDS INCLUDING FROZEN, COLD, CANNED, AND SHELF STABLE (Hours 8:00 am – 5:00 pm Mon.-Fri. and by appointment anytime!)
Caring for Friends fights food insecurity in Greater Philadelphia in three ways:
- SENIOR MEALS PROGRAM - Rescued/donated fresh produce, protein and starches are prepared into congregate or individual, ready-to-heat, frozen meals. Snack and breakfast items are sorted into individual portion sizes and bagged to create snack bags.
- FOOD BANK - Shelf-stable and fresh food is redistributed directly to community-based pantries and faith organization pantries that aid their neighbors directly. Over 50% of our annual revenue is “gift-in kind” of rescued food.
- CARING KITCHEN – Shelf-stable, fresh/frozen/canned vegetables, fruit, protein, and starches are cooked and prepared into individual (TV dinner-style) and congregate (buffet style) meals for seniors, veterans, and families.
We need your help. We can only run on volunteers, financial contributions and donations of food. Our shelf stable products and canned goods are running low. The demand for our food items has skyrocketed. In 2019, we were distributing 500,000 pounds of food a month and now it's over a million pounds per month. We went from 1,400 seniors served weekly in 2019 to over 23,000 in 2020. We also increased bulk food donations to faith and community nonprofits from 40 a week to over 300!
We are staff of 20 and a veritable army of thousands of volunteers across the 5 counties of the Delaware Valley. Our board is made up of faith leaders, business leaders, and community members who all share our passion to provide food and friendship to those in need. Our network of faith and community nonprofits includes over 500 groups who are helping to prepare, donate, rescue and distribute food in Eastern Pennsylvania. Two hundred of these groups (mentioned above) pick up food weekly on a set schedule from our warehouse.
What makes Caring for Friends different from other food banks and senior meals programs is:
- We work in all five counties of Greater Philadelphia
- We include friendship into everything we do (caring notes, calls and visits to our community partners, clients, and donors), and
- We make food redistribution easy for our “agencies” or pantry partners. Each one signs up for at least one regular pick-up day a week at a particular time. Each group receives at least 260-500lbs of food (imagine in your mind the back of a full pick-up truck). In addition, groups get Snack Bags for kids and seniors, as well as meals for those individuals who are unable to prepare their own. We ask that each pantry partner, who picks up food, find homebound seniors in their community and to deliver meals and food items. Connecting seniors to their community is almost as important as nourishing them, both have incredible health and wellness benefits.
Caring for Friends partners include faith organizations, nonprofit community pantries, nonprofits service organizations, family grocers, caring companies, and philanthropic individuals and organizations. Each one has the mutual goal of helping to build a more caring community by providing food, financial support, volunteers, networking opportunities and friendship to continue to grow the number of people that we serve.
Caring for Friends was inspired and founded in 1974 by Rita Ungaro-Schiavone, an active community member working to improve families’ wellbeing across Philadelphia. As part of her work for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Rita founded the Community Food Distribution Program. After leaving the Archdiocese, Rita volunteered at the Frankford YWCA helping seniors in the community. Struck by the isolation and desperate needs of those she encountered, Rita began bringing frozen home-cooked meals with her as she visited. Struggling with loneliness and physical suffering, many had serious health issues that were exacerbated by emotional distress, lack of human interaction, and an inadequate diet.
Expanding other’s awareness through speaking to community groups and in churches and synagogues across the city and suburbs of Philadelphia, Rita grew Caring for Friends from its fledgling roots in one small section in Northeast Philadelphia to its current expanded operation throughout the 5-county Greater Philadelphia region serving 5 million meals a year.
How you can help? Caring for Friends needs food, financial contributions and volunteers.