The City of Brotherly Love is extending a much needed helping hand to residents who are being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. According to NBC News Philadelphia, 20 community sites offering free food will open around the city on Monday.

Those needing food assistance can pick up one box of food per household between 10 a.m. and noon. The pop-up food banks are a partnership between Philabundance, a local hunger relief organization, and the Share Food Program, whose mission is to expand community access to wholesome, affordable food. The addition of the 20 sites means that city residents now have more than 100 locations to obtain meals. The Philadelphia school district runs more than 80.

As ESSENCE previously reported, free food programs began to pop up throughout the United States following coronavirus-spurred school closings. In mid-March, Chicago Public Schools launched food boxes that would provide students with three days’ worth of breakfast and lunch. New York City followed a similar model.

In New York, now considered the epicenter of the pandemic, restaurants have also joined in on helping individuals fill basic food needs. Last week, famed restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson teamed up with celebrity chef José Andrés, owner of World Central Kitchen, to provide free meals during the disaster. Every Monday through Saturday starting at noon, Samuelsson’s Harlem restaurant, Red Rooster, is open for to-go meals.

Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson at his Harlem restaurant Red Rooster. Last week the restauranteur opened two of his restaurants to serve as food assistance sites during the pandemic.
Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson at his Harlem restaurant Red Rooster. Last week the restaurateur opened two of his restaurants to serve as food assistance sites during the pandemic. (Photo By: Susan Watts/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

“Now, more than ever, we need to come together to support everyone in our community to combat food insecurity in the midst of this crisis. As we have learned from our ten years serving this neighborhood and my past five years as the co-founder of Harlem EatUp! with our main beneficiary Citymeals, there are a tremendous number of food-insecure people in our community under the best of circumstances,” Samuelsson said in a statement. Red Rooster Overtown has also opened its doors to the community, offering prepackaged meals to Miamians in need.

Meal programs become increasingly more necessary as the unemployment rate in the United States continues to rise. On Thursday The Washington Post reported that a record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week. 

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