As you may have seen on social media last week, in 2021, 7,741 adults, 1,604 seniors, and 5,171 children were served through our food distribution efforts. In total, we shared 279,390 pounds of food with our neighbors.
The reality is that our neighborhood is not without its challenges. Crime is real. Housing insecurity, including lack of affordable housing, is real. Unemployment numbers are high, due to fewer accessible jobs. There is a lack of quality education. Our neighbors are struggling, because inequitable, oppressive systems of racism and classism affect every area of their lives. Compared to the rest of Philadelphia, our neighbors in Kensington are more “likely to lack public or private health insurance, smoke, have skipped a meal, and have hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, or mental health diagnoses.” Local public health officials have noted that we serve one of the poorest areas in one of the poorest cities.
Our community is vulnerable to a number of injustices, but as a small organization, we desire to support our neighbors by helping to build a neighborhood where everyone belongs and thrives. We yearn to be community to and with one another.
We celebrate, garden and work together to make our neighborhood beautiful. We collaborate locally and we listen to the needs of our neighbors so that we can move one another toward security.
The Simple Way is not a monolith, nor is our neighborhood a monolith. We are honored to have a story that inspires others to act – a story that equips neighbors around the world to be active in their own neighborhoods.
How has our story sparked a desire for you to follow Jesus every day, both with your body and in your neighborhood?
For our neighborhood, one of the most pressing needs is food. We experience food security when we can always get the food we need to feed ourselves and our families. But take, for example, one of the families from our neighborhood: a full-time, minimum-wage job still does not provide enough to pay for rent and utilities, and put food on the table. Oftentimes, when people are making decisions about what to skip, food is the first thing stricken off the list. Shelter is a necessity. Gas and electricity in the winter is essential. This is the reality of food insecurity.
Just as our neighbors needed a place to be welcomed in, with love, and be given the space and time to choose the kinds of foods they like to eat, they need the security of not having to make the tough decision of choosing between food and shelter. Knowing you can get staples from our food pantry also means being able to successfully allocate your money to other pressing needs, like rent and utilities, transportation, and medical bills.
Our neighbors deserve this security. Just as many of us take for granted the food that is easily ours for the taking, Kensington residents deserve to choose and prepare the kinds of meals their families actuallywant to eat.
Although our Food Choice Pantry serves this tangible need, we are quickly outgrowing our space. We can’t wait to renovate our office space in order to expand our Food Choice Pantry offerings and hours.
We hope to repair the basement to create a cleaner and more robust food storage area. We want to clean out years of old, collected items; we want to stop up holes and fix broken concrete; we want to widen our doors to help with flow and access issues. As a hundred-year old property, designed for a family and as a cobbler’s workshop, evolving into a growing food pantry is no easy feat!
It’s time for us to bring change and make repairs to fill the space with who we are now. We trust this is a small thing we can do with great love.
What small thing with great love can you do for you and for the neighborhood you call home?