Sunday, April 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Wasting In the Land of Plenty

Thursday's column asks the impolite question:

Has Philabundance gotten too successful?

There's no denying it's doing more to feed the hungry than ever before, but its gotten away from doing the work that got it famous.

Who k

Wasting In the Land of Plenty

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Thursday's column asks the impolite question:

Has Philabundance gotten too successful?

There's no denying it's doing more to feed the hungry than ever before, but its gotten away from doing the work that got it famous.

Who knew that it no longer stops by restaurants to pick up extra food?

I didn't.

At a time when food prices are rising and food-bank reserves are falling -- and at a time when the average person is wasting a pound-a-day of food -- I tracked down Pamela Rainey Lawler, to ask if she thought there was any opportunity for an agency to do the work she did 24 years ago when she founded the food recovery agency.

She talks about a version 2.0, with blogs and e-mail mobilizing a stripped down army of candy stripers.

I also talked to some restaurateurs, who said some things I didn't get into the column.

Derek Davis, owner of Derek's Restaurant in Manayunk, said he hadn't seen Philabundance workers in a few years  - and he used to make 50 dinners a month for them to give away.

Jeff Benjamin, co-owner of Vetri and Osteria, made a similar observation about Philabundance going in another direction. So did Cary Borish of Marathon Grill, who said he gets hit up for all sorts of fundraisers -- but no one asks has ever asked if he had any extra food they could distribute.

I also talked to Jon Weinrott, owner of Peachtree and Ward, the caterering company. He said he typically makes 10 to 20 percent more food than customers say they need - industry standard - because neither he nor they ever want to run out of food at an affair.

The customers pay, and get to take home extras. Who knows what happens to the food then, he asks. But he's been mulling over a plan where the customer could agree to donate the unopened portions back to Peachtree & Ward, which would work with an agency like Philabundance to get it to hungry people. There would be a tax write-off. Everyone would win.

Maybe the time for that is ripe. 

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