One of the biggest local news stories to emerge from the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, a wealthy city where more than a quarter of the population lives in poverty, had less to do with politics and was more skewed to altruism and innovation. While large and small protests were occurring on the streets outside and around the Wells Fargo Center, the South Philadelphia arena which hosted the convention, and during the many speeches that were audible inside the nearly 20,000 seat venue and broadcast worldwide, hunger in the big City was being mitigated using a technology that a local restaurateur characterized as “the uber of food.”
Approximately 11,239 pounds of edibles was collected and delivered to emergency food providers in 8 days using the app Food Connect, which was founded by local millennial Ms. Megha Kulshrestha and launched during the Democratic National Convention.
On Thursday, exactly one week from when the grand event wrapped up after nominating Mrs. Hillary Clinton for President of the United States of America, the Mayor of Philadelphia and other officials – including Mr. Mitchell Little, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity – joined Ms. Kulshrestha at Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, the largest emergency homeless shelter in the City, to announce the app will function indefinitely.
The parents of Ms. Kulshrestha, who were, as the Mayor put it, “beaming with pride,” sat three seats behind me during the Thursday morning press conference in the cafeteria at Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, where, during the remarks, tables were being set to accommodate roughly 200 food insecure diners for lunch. Mayor Kenney placed Ms. Kulshrestha in the category of “smart young people” and called her invention an “important, important application.”
Mayor Kenney’s grandmother was a “Depression Era child” who believed that throwing away food was a “sin.” For many Philadelphians in 2016, they, too, live in a Depression Era, said the Mayor, and they go hungry every day.
“We should not waste food, we should not throw it away, and we should share with each other. There’s no more thing basic in my religious experience, in every religious experience, that you feed the hungry,” said the Mayor.
Ms. Kulshrestha, when it was her turn at the podium, spoke like a CEO in a boardroom delivering a pitch to investors, using phrases such as integrating distribution platforms and unifying the donation experience. The “widely successful” launch of Food Connect was made possible by 26 drivers who worked with 30 vehicles around the clock connecting with “countless donors” across the City, and the app, which is aimed at reducing hunger in Philadelphia by rescuing food that would otherwise go to waste, was responsible for “consolidating all those moving parts.”
The magnitude of collaboration extends from the Mayor’s Office and the Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council to Philabundance and the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger. It was due to efforts of the aforementioned organizations and many others which, in the words of Ms. Kulshrestha, helped to create a “truly sustainable effort beyond a one off event.”
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
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Photo courtesy of the author.