Philly Chefs Host Food Drive to Feed Underserved Communities

The team behind Cooking for the Culture, a platform for black culinary professionals, is organizing food drives after the city shut down food distribution sites.

Food donations collected at River Twice in East Passyunk | Courtesy of River Twice

As the City of Philadelphia aims all of its resources at squashing protests against police brutality and the murder of George Floyd, many Philadelphians are going without food and basic necessities like toilet paper. According to the Inquirer, the 40 food distribution sites the city set up to offer support during the COVID-19 crisis have been shut down. Now, community efforts are working to replace that support, causing more than 16,000 people to lose out on food on Monday alone.

Today, private chef Elijah Milligan is leading a food drive alongside 13 restaurants serving as donation sites across the city. The restaurants are, Fork, High Street on Market, Hardena, South Philly Barbacoa, June BYOB, Crybaby Pasta, Jezabel’s Cafe, Helm (both locations), Just To Serve You, River Twice, Mike’s BBQ and Local 44. Donations are being distributed at the corner of 52nd Street and Girard Avenue.

Milligan said the idea sprang from conversations between members of Cooks for The Culture, a pop-up series through which black Philly Chefs Host Food Drive to Feed Underserved Communities chefs share their work in Philadelphia.

“We literally only came up with this idea on Tuesday,” Milligan said. “We’ve all been upset by the effects of the looting on low-income communities. We put the word out and got an overwhelming response.”

Milligan said the group intends to continue holding the food drives, saying he thinks they are likely to feed about 1,000 people, an impressive number for such a quickly organized effort.

“We’re almost running a farmer’s market out here,” he said. “We’ve gotten donations from a lot of the big produce companies like Giordanos’ and Ambrogi. We have so much food, and the donations from the restaurant collection sites haven’t even come in yet.”

For updates, follow Cooking for the Culture’s Instagram and Milligan’s personal account.

Philadelphia magazine is one of more than 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and economic mobility in the city. Read all our reporting here.