Every Tuesday around noon, Freddie Boldea pulls up to the curb outside her house on Norris Street near 15th to begin unloading her SUV packed full of food and set up for her weekly free food distribution.
For the past 12 years, 60-year-old Boldea and her family have run a small nonprofit food distribution service in front of her home every Tuesday and every other Friday.
Boldea gets the food through Philabundance and SHARE, two Philadelphia-based programs that help deliver food to communities in need. She distributes the food to homeless people, Temple students and community residents.
“I love giving,” she said. “It’s just something I’ve always loved doing. When people come visit me, they never leave empty handed.”
Although Boldea has distributed free food since 2005, she said she has had trouble maintaining volunteers. Currently, the only help she receives consistently is from her two daughters.
“I would love to have some nice, good people that want to do this, that want to help,” she added. “This has to be done from the heart, something you really enjoy doing. I do it because I know I’m serving some people that really need it, that really benefit from it and enjoy it.”
Boldea used to give the food donations every Tuesday and Friday, but because of health problems, her family requested she limit herself to only Tuesdays and every other Friday.
The work can be difficult and is not always rewarding, Boldea said. Some people just want to take advantage of her charity.
“The hardest thing, really, is dealing with the people that come to get the food who are totally ungrateful,” she added. “It’s hard dealing with the people who are ungrateful.”
But, Boldea said she has her “regulars” who get food from her every week and have come to depend on her.
Leroy Roebuck, an 84-year-old North Philadelphia resident, who Boldea called “an icon in the neighborhood,” has been coming to Boldea for food since she started the program.
“She’s a beautiful person.,” Roebuck said. “They don’t come any better than Freddie.”
Nigel Phillips, who is homeless and had never gotten food from Boldea before, said he was surprised when she called him over to give him food last week.
Phillips left with a drink and a grocery bag full of free food, including potatoes, cucumbers, peaches and raisins.
“It’s important to have something like this in the community because, as a homeless person, food can be scarce, and the opportunity to get and have food that will last longer than a day is very useful,” Phillips said.
“I’m giving away free food,” Boldea shouted to students walking by her table last week around 3 p.m. “I know you could use some.”
Students tend to be reluctant to take food, she added.
“[Boldea] just made my day,” said Bernadette Barone, a sophomore nursing major, who walked away from her stand with a bag of peaches. “That was so sweet.”
Caroline Haeffner, a junior international business major, also walked away with some cucumbers.
“It integrates Temple and the community,” Haeffner said. “They give food out to students passing by, but there’s also a huge line full of community members as well.”
Boldea plans to continue the program. She encourages visitors to stop by for food and consider volunteering.