It was a rainy and cool day as some thirty PSPA members and their guests had a wonderful day visiting Philabudance and the American Swedish Historical Museum.
Mr. Bill Clark, President and Executive Director of Philabundance and a PSPA member, presented a detailed description and video narrated by NBC’s Chris Matthews of their hunger relief programs that was then followed by a tour of their recently renovated and expanded produce warehouse.
Philabundance was founded in 1984 to reduce food waste and fight hunger in the Delaware Valley. In 2005, they integrated services with the Philadelphia Food Bank to become the region’s largest nonprofit hunger relief organization. With four locations, the organization fulfills its activities of food acquisition, sorting and packaging, and distribution with the essential help of 15,000 volunteers. Approximately 25 million pounds of food were provided to approximately 500 organizations (e.g. churches, senior centers, food kitchens and shelters, cupboards) last year.
Fresh produce is the top priority since vegetables and fruit are commonly the first thing omitted from the diet of the hungry due to the expense and lack of availability. Philabundance works with a network of agencies to identify the types of food that the community needs. Next the organization secures fresh fruit and vegetables and core food items that households use on a regular basis by working with national and local growers, wholesalers, retailers, food brokers and food distributors to obtain donations. It is helpful that Philadelphia is the largest port of entry for produce from Europe and Africa.
Currently more than 900,000 low income residents in our Delaware Valley cities, suburbs and rural areas are at risk for chronic hunger and malnutrition.
In the cold coolers of the warehouse, we saw bulk amounts of many fresh fruits and vegetables and other food products that had been recently donated and was set to bel distributed within 24 hours. In another room, we saw donated bulk pasta being packaged by volunteers into 5 pound bags for distribution. Additional Philabundance information is available on the PSPA website for the September 2009 meeting and at www.philabundance.org.
A delicious luncheon was served at the American Swedish Historical Museum. Tracey Beck, Executive Director of the museum, welcomed us and provided an overview of the museum. The museum was founded in 1926 during the United States Sesquicentennial Exposition and honors the Swedish-American heritage, history and culture. Swedes were some of the earliest colonists in the United States.
PSPA member Michael McGrath offered a prayer prior to a short business meeting by relating the origin and history of Irving Berlin’s song “God Bless America”, and then sang it beautifully. Following lunch, Carrie Hogan, curator of the museum, provided a guided tour of their most recent exhibit on agriculture “Go Swedish! Smörgåsbord and Beyond”.
The “Go Swedish! Smörgåsbord and Beyond” exhibit explores how Sweden’s climate and location has influenced the development of its cuisine. From reindeer breeding in the north to eel fishing in the south, the exhibition looks at how Swedes have used their agricultural landscapes to create food traditions that stand the test of time. We learned which foods are characteristic of different regions in Sweden, and how Swedish cuisine has changed over time because of trade and modernization. We also saw traditional uses of essential ingredients such as fish and game, breads and baked goods, milk and cheese, and coffee and desserts. Popularized Swedish meals such as the smörgåsbord—and that other famous mainstay — the Swedish meatball — reveal the important role food plays in cultural identity, holiday traditions, and social relationships. Additional museum information is available at www.americanswedish.org.