Joe Biden and Jill Biden volunteer at Philabundance in Philadelphia on National Day of Service Updated for 2021

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Updated: March 4, 2021

U.S. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and incoming First Lady Jill Biden spent the National Day of Service on Monday volunteering at Philabundance in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The President-elect was seen placing canned goods, two at a time, in each food box while Dr. Biden was seen adding packages of rice as disco played over loudspeakers, according to a pool report.

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A Biden aide said over 150 food boxes were packed at Philabundance.

Philabundance was founded in 1984 with a mission to “drive hunger from communities today and to end hunger for good.”

In addition to food distribution, Philabundance strives to reduce food waste, increase accessibility to nutritious meals, and tackle the root causes of hunger through programs such as the Philabundance Community Kitchen, a 16-week culinary vocational training program for women and men with low-to-no income. 

Philabundance also provides food to thousands of people each week through a network of over 350 agency partners – food pantries, cupboards, and emergency kitchens – over a nine-county service area in Pennsylvania (Bucks,  Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties) and New Jersey (Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Salem counties).  

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Philabundance served approximately 90,000 people per week, 30 percent of whom were children and 16 percent were seniors.

Since the pandemic began they have seen up to a 60 percent increase in need, with 40 percent of those people accessing the charitable food network for the first time. From March through December 2020, Philabundance served about 192,991 people weekly through a network of 350 partner agencies, including food pantries, shelters, emergency kitchens, community centers, hospitals, libraries and schools. 

The food Philabundance distributes comes from three sources: donations, government, and purchased product. Donations come from a variety of sources, including grocery stores, retailers (like Starbucks), the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market and the Port of Philadelphia. The primary sources of government support over the last year have been the USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).

National Day of Service:

On January 18, 2021, thousands of volunteers across the country will participate in the National Day of Service – an opportunity for all Americans to unite and serve at a time when the global pandemic calls on us to work together and support our communities. The PIC, working closely with AmeriCorps and local, state, and national service partners, has organized more than 2,500 events in all 56 states and territories.  The PIC has already surpassed the 2013 Inaugural Committee’s number of 1 million service hours committed.

The day will culminate in an hour-long virtual live-stream celebration that will feature a diverse array of entertainers, speakers, and stories of service celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to service.  

In 1994, Congress passed legislation designating the Martin Luther King Holiday as a national day of volunteer service – “a day on, not a day off.”  Since then, AmeriCorps – the federal agency for service and volunteerism – has led this national effort to engage Americans in honoring Dr. King’s legacy through service on MLK Day.  Throughout the year, AmeriCorps provides opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to strengthen their communities through service.

In 2009, then President-elect Obama called on all Americans to join the National Day of Service as part of the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s activities.  The PIC set up a volunteer website and organized events across the country. President-elect Obama and the First Lady participated in a painting and restoration project at the Sasha Bruce House, an emergency shelter for homeless teens in Washington, DC.  Vice President-elect Joe Biden worked with Habitat for Humanity alongside approximately 50 AmeriCorps volunteers, firefighters, police officers, and other participants to help build homes for families in need in Northeast Washington, D.C.

In 2013, the PIC participated in the National Day of Service again by hosting a service fair in Washington, DC, and organizing events across the country. In 2013, President Obama and the First Lady participated in a painting and furniture staining project at Burrville Elementary School in NE DC. Vice President Biden and his family joined volunteers at the D.C. Armory to box supplies for troops overseas, veterans, and first responders.

Who are the Philabundance Volunteers?

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  • Loree D. Jones, CEO, Philabundance
  • Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO, Feeding America
  • Jane Clements-Smith, Executive Director, Feeding Pennsylvania
  • Miguel Diaz, Philabundance Agency Representative
  • Howard William, Philabundance volunteer
  • Desiree’ La Marr-Murphy, Philabundance Agency Representative
  • Litty Paolone, Philabundance volunteer
  • Don Taylor, Philabundance volunteer
  • Roopa Seshadri, Philabundance volunteer
  • John Holloway, Board Chair, Philabundance
  • Dixianne James, Vice Chair, Philabundance
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