A long line for free food in South Philadelphia

People brought chairs to wait in line - some for as long as four hours - for food from Philabundance in South Philadelphia today. (Akira Suwa / Staff Photographer )

Amid an afternoon drizzle, a long line of people formed in South Philadelphia on Monday to receive free frozen meat, dairy products and other food items.

More than 250 people gathered at Front and Dickinson Streets at about 1p.m. to receive the free food being distributed by Philabundance, the nonprofit organization that provides free donated food to those in need.

"We serve a lot of unemployed people," said Tunisia Garnett, a program manager with Philabundance, as she watched people walk up to tables there under Interstate 95.

Philabundance's Mobil Food Center has been giving out the food each Monday from 1 to 2 p.m. since mid-February. Garnett said there are no eligibility requirements, so anyone can come.

"We have people travel from as far as Burlington County, N.J.," said Garnett.

People, with grocery carts, boxes and plastic bags formed a line that was more than a block long to receive frozen ground beef, veal cutlets, frozen dinners and other items that Garnett said were donated by Acme Markets, Target stores and others.

"People line up three to four hours before we get here," Garnett said.

Alice Gamble, 42, an unemployed hospital worker with a 16 year-old son, said the free food "has been a tremendous help." Gamble said she was told she was ineligible for food stamps.

"I've been here each week," Gamble said. "I'll be back next week."