Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority Serving Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties

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School's Out! Hunger's in Session

Heather Redfern
SEPTA Public Information Manager

The ring of the last school bells for summer is a time of joy for most Greater Philadelphia region children. But for families facing food insecurity, those dismissal bells bring anxiety. How will parents replace the two extra meals per day they need to provide for their children?

"For children and families without sufficient food resources, summer can be a challenging time, especially when the kids lose the free or low-cost meals they receive during the school year," said SEPTA General Manger Jeffrey D. Knueppel, who was joined by Philabundance Executive Director Glenn Bergman, Philabundance volunteer Sheri Howard, and SEPTA and Philabundance employees, to kick off the Authority's eighth annual "Stop Hunger at Your Station" food drive with a rally at Dilworth Park on June 1.

Approximately 300,000 children in the Greater Philadelphia region receive meals at their schools. "The 'Stop Hunger at Your Station' drive is vital to increase the awareness of the public to the needs of these 300,000 children," said Bergman. "It is our goal to work collaboratively with organizations like SEPTA to drive hunger from our community."
Philabundance provides food to approximately 90,000 people per week in nine counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey through its own food distribution programs, as well as through 350 member agencies such as food cupboards, shelters and emergency kitchens. Thirty percent of the low-income area residents served by the organization are children.

SEPTA customers and employees can help Philabundance and its agencies fight childhood hunger by participating in the "Stop Hunger at Your Station" drive. Through June 20, the Authority will collect donations of canned or shelf stabilized tuna, canned pasta, canned beef ravioli, plastic containers of creamy peanut butter and jelly and boxes of cereal and oatmeal at 43 stations and Transportation Centers.

Howard volunteers weekly at the Philabundance warehouse and monthly with her son during family nights; she knows the importance of the donations collected through "Stop Hunger at Your Station". "I help sort and pack all the food that comes in and I know it's helping our neighbors who don't know where their next meal is coming from - or if they're getting one at all," she said. "As someone who was once food insecure, I know that food drives like these help ensure our cabinets are full and kids are getting the nutrition they need to learn and grow."

Since 2009, SEPTA customers and employees have contributed more than 214,400 meals to Philabundance through the drive. "I ask for your continued support and generosity during our 2016 campaign," said Knueppel.

In addition to the 43 collection locations, SEPTA's Philabundance bus will also make stops at the Authority's Transportation Centers and Regional Rail stations throughout the food drive. For the bus's appearance schedule, as well as a list of all drop-off locations, click here. The public can also help feed neighbors in need by making a donation to Philabundance online, or by contributing $10 by texting "Food" to 41010. For every dollar donated, Philabundance can provide two meals.

(Center, from left to right) SEPTA GM Jeff Knueppel, Philabundance volunteer Shari Howard and Philabundance Executive Director Glenn Bergmann were joined by SEPTA and Philabundance employees at the 2016 food drive kick-off at Dilworth Park.

Shari Howard, now a Philabundance volunteer, once suffered from food insecurity and relied on the services of Philabundance.

Bergman (left) and Knueppel (right) visit with SEPTA bus operator Zenon "John" Rinylo, who will once again drive the wrapped Philabundance bus to stations during the food drive.