After learning about Sharing Excess at Templefest as a freshman, Olivia Weaver was eager to help people access affordable, nutritious food.
“There’s so much food insecurity, and it just makes me sort of baffled to think about all the food in restaurants and grocery stores that go to waste, and then how much food insecurity you can actually see, like out here in the city, and nationwide, too,” said Weaver, now a junior majoring in communication and social influence and gender, sexuality and women’s studies and the president of Temple’s chapter of Sharing Excess.
Temple’s chapter of Sharing Excess, a nonprofit organization that donates excess food from local food businesses and grocery stores to hunger relief organizations, hosted a produce giveaway on Nov. 5 for students and local residents at the Temple Community Garden, located on Diamond Street near Carlisle.
Members from Sharing Excess set up a table with fresh produce from the organization’s headquarters, including yellow squash, green beans, mangos and baby carrots. The event did not include produce from local businesses and grocery stores because Temple’s chapter is still in the process of building those connections, Weaver said.
About 84 percent of stores in the Lower North planning district, which encompasses Temple’s Main Campus, do not have a high supply of produce, according to a 2019 report from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
Allison Beck, a volunteer for Temple’s Sharing Excess chapter, appreciated how the event provided a place for students and local residents to pick up quality, free produce.
“I know it’s really hard to get good, fresh produce, and it’s also really good for the surrounding communities since it’s a food desert,” said Beck, a freshman undeclared major in Klein. “You can come here and just get fresh fruit.”
Food insecurity in Philadelphia is poised to rise from 14 percent in 2019 to 17 percent this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Feeding America.
Christine Call, a junior criminal justice major attended the giveaway to pick up vegetables for her friend, and appreciated the sense of community at the event, she said.
“I think it just brings everyone together,” Call said. “Also, it’s nice to share and have free vegetables, everyone can use some more veggies.”
The community produce giveaway was the first pop-up event Temple’s chapter has hosted since it officially formed during the Spring 2020 semester.
Temple’s chapter began recruiting members in the fall of 2019, but their plans to host events were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, they donated to hunger relief organizations like One Day At A Time, a food pantry and rehabilitation center located on Broad Street near Huntingdon, Weaver said.
Students at Drexel University founded Sharing Excess in 2018, and Temple is one of six other schools statewide that have since started their own chapters, including the University of Pennsylvania, Saint Joseph’s University, the University of Pittsburgh, Neumann University and Delaware County Community College.
Kayla Boileau has been a member of Temple’s chapter for a month after learning about Sharing Excess through her sister, who previously worked with Drexel’s chapter, she said.
Boileau believes the community produce giveaway was important because it provided food for people experiencing food insecurity, she said.
“It’s food that’s going to waste to people that genuinely need it, and the fact that it’s free and going to a community that you know needs it,” said Boileau, a sophomore business management major.
Throughout the rest of the semester, Weaver wants to build up Temple’s chapter to what it could have been if the pandemic never occurred, she said.
“I want people to be interested and I want us to start to really get going with creating a network of food providers and places we can bring the food,” Weaver said.