Despite the numerous problems that people face in Germantown, resident Cheryl Bird, along with others, take advantage of the numerous free food programs that the area’s churches and organizations offer.
“You cannot starve down here. There’s just no way to starve down here,” she said.
Parked outside of Faith Chapel of Philadelphia at the corner of Lena and Price streets, a line of people waited for the end of the midday gospel service to receive the free food that would follow. It was one of three churches Jackie Wilson, mother of five, would visit that day. “A lot of people need food around here,” said Wilson, who regularly comes to Faith Chapel of Philadelphia on Wednesdays. “Everywhere I walk I bring a shopping cart.”
Not all of Wilson’s food comes from the various free food programs, but since she lost her job last month, she finds herself in need of food more than ever. “One check goes to rent, one goes to bills. I don’t get food stamps so not a lot of money goes to eating,” Wilson said. The canned goods, meat and produce help to keep her family from going to bed hungry.
Her oldest daughter, Precious Wilson, 23, lives on her own. She works at Wendy’s and is able to support her 2-year-old son, Amir. However, Precious accompanies her mom every Wednesday when she goes to pick up food at various programs in the area. “At the beginning I thought it was kind of weird, but you get to meet new people, and all the old people tell you stories,” she said.
Also along for many of Wilson’s trips is her friend Barry Lynch, a local construction worker. “It’d be hard without these places,” Lynch said. “It makes it easier because they give you canned goods and vegetables.” Lynch said he cooks everyday and his favorite dish is baked beans and hot dogs.
There are many food-aid programs within Germantown. While they aren’t the only source of food for all of the people they serve, the programs do help ensure that many area residents stay fed. “Even if it’s just canned goods, I can eat that,” Wilson said.