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Philabundance Fresh for All program at 49th and Spruce, weekly on Wednesdays Credit: Pamela Ellermann

Those in need can now find a new source of fresh produce in West Philadelphia.

Fresh for All, a Philabundance program that distributes produce to Philadelphians in need, opened a new food distribution site at 49th and Spruce streets. The new location, which will operate on Wednesdays, may bring new opportunities to engage with institutions in University City.

“Historically, universities and food banks work together,” said Philabundance spokeswoman Marlo DelSordo, adding that universities are a resource for volunteers and research.

Although no specific group is directly tied to Philabundance at Penn, members of the University, including students, staff and faculty, volunteer with the organization, Civic House Director David Grossman said.

The School of Arts and Sciences staff has organized two trips to Philabundance events, SAS Human Resources and Project Administrator Rebecca Ross said.

“A lot of people work in various locations, and we’re trying to get some opportunities for staff to work together in a different setting,” she said.

The program began as an initiative to increase access to fresh produce, which families on a tight budget often forego for cheaper canned goods, Fresh for All Program Manager Tunisia Garnett said.

Nursing Professor Irene Berman-Levine explained that access to fruits and vegetables has been problematic in Philadelphia because there are few grocery stores in parts of the inner city. Sometimes the only option is to purchase them from corner stores, which offers less variety at a higher price, she said.

Philabundance gets “tons of produce” at a South Philadelphia site, but the problem is providing efficient access for those in need, Garnett explained.

At distribution sites, tables are set up to give out a variety of produce. The selection changes weekly, she said.

Fresh for All differs from other food banks in its emphasis on choice, as individuals get to select the items they want, Garnett said.

The program currently operates at 12 locations, a number that doubled since last year to address the growing needs of the community, according to DelSordo. Fresh for All began in 2007 and has distributed 2.5 million pounds of food to over 7,000 individuals from 2,500 households.

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