This article was originally published on Temple Health’s employee website
Temple University Health – Episcopal Campus food pantry has only been open since May 2022, but in those few short months, it’s already made an impact. “We’ve been selling out,” says Clinical Dietitian Specialist Lisa Rasi, who runs the pantry. “I’m already recognizing some of the same faces coming back, week after week.”
Thanks to a new partnership, Rasi and her team are about to see a lot more regulars. They’re teaming up with the Share Food Program—the leading food bank in the Philadelphia area—which has now become the food pantry’s primary supplier.
“This is going to dramatically expand our ability to provide for the community,” Rasi explains. While she had been working with another supplier for fresh foods, the pantry’s supply of non-perishable goods had come from individual donations. All of that has changed thanks to the Share Food Program, which can provide the pantry with cases and cases of perishable and non-perishable food.
For the first Share Food delivery, which arrived August 25, Rasi placed an order of 85 cases. “That included produce, meats, dairy, and non-perishables,” she says. That’s far more than the food pantry had ever been able to offer, and Rasi hopes it will attract even more community members. “Before our partnership with Share Food, we were feeding about 20 people,” she explains. “Now, I think we’ll be able to double that.”
To spread the word about the food pantry, Rasi and her team have been distributing flyers around the Episcopal campus, as well as going out into the community and giving information to government services offices. More community members using the pantry means Rasi will need more volunteers, and she encourages anyone who’s interested to sign up at this link. While the food pantry is only open on Thursdays from 2 to 5 pm, Rasi hopes that an increase in food and volunteers will allow the pantry to operate multiple days a week.
This isn’t the only plan Rasi has in the works. She’s also finalizing a partnership with the American Heart Association to provide blood pressure screenings and nutritional education at the food pantry. If the response to the first Share Food delivery is any indication, then the demand for the pantry to continue expanding its services very much exists. By the end of the day, the pantry had distributed all its items, save a few non-perishables. The 85 cases from Share Food allowed the pantry to feed a record 45 community members—and Lisa Rasi couldn’t be happier.
“Thanks to this partnership, we’re suddenly a huge resource,” she says. “Our mission is to provide healthy food to the community, and we’re well on our way.”