Food for thought

Inspired by supermarket coupon, resident organizes food drive

Dinner donations: Ruth Brown shows some of the items collected at PlayArts for the food drive. The longtime Mascher Street resident was inspired to organize the effort after playing the Acme Monopoly Sweepstakes. TOM BECK / STAR PHOTO

By Melissa Komar

Ruth Brown didn’t think about passing Go, collecting $200 or setting up properties on Boardwalk when she saw she was an instant winner for Acme’s Shop, Play, Win Monopoly 2018 Sweepstakes.

She thought about donating her prize.

“I was sitting with my Acme coupon in hand and thought, ‘Wait a minute. There’s free food out there. Just because I don’t want it, doesn’t mean no one else does,’ ” said the longtime Mascher Street resident. “And, I had my Monopoly coupons and I had an instant winner for a can of tomato sauce. I don’t really use canned tomato sauce. But, I thought there are a lot of these instant winners out there people may not want, so it’s free food awaiting distribution.”

Sparked by the sauce in early May, Brown reached out to Philabundance for support and local businesses to serve as drop-off locations for donations.

“I’ve never done a food drive, so why not work with the people in the city who are best at it, ” said the Friends of Rodriguez Library president. “Instead of reinventing the wheel, I decided to get help from someone who does it beautifully. I’ve always admired Philabundance.”

Philabundance provided cardboard boxes to collect the donations and fliers about the organization and its most-needed food items.

Brown drew on her friendships to drum up support for drop-off locations.

“I wanted to keep it mostly in my neighborhood and didn’t want to spread it out too much,” Brown said. “So, I thought neighborhood groups and neighborhood businesses would be a good fit.”

River Wards organizations and businesses serving as donation drop-off locations include South Kensington Community Partners, Northern Liberties Neighbors Association, Spot’s Spot, and PlayArts.

A list of desired items include canned fruits and vegetables, canned tuna and meat, soup, cereal, peanut butter, jelly, rice, cooking oil, and whole grain pasta.

“Any non-perishable, not-outdated food items are great,” Brown said. “Philabundance has their Top 10 needed, so I decided to highlight those. But any other non-perishables are welcome.”

For River Wards residents looking to make a difference, the food drive is a “no-brainer,” according to Brown.

“A food drive is wonderful because it’s easy activism. It’s cheap, it doesn’t take a lot of time, it’s a wonderfully simple way to make a difference,” she said.

And while the gesture may be simple, Brown hopes to bring attention to a more substantial issue.

“Food insecurity in this country, to me, is an outrage. There’s no excuse for it. We’re a well-to-do country and we have a lot of food,” Brown said. “I think if you’re fortunate financially, I think it’s incumbent upon you to share. I think we really need to take care of each other as neighbors.”

Donations can be dropped off at South Kensington Community Partners, 1301 N. Second St., PlayArts, 1241 N. Front St., and Spot’s Spot Pet Grooming, 123 W. Girard Ave., until the last day of June.