News Release
Kevin Mahoney speaks to a crowd in front of the community fridge.

PHILADELPHIA— In an effort to jointly target food insecurity to boost the health of the communities around them, Penn Medicine and Philadelphia Union have opened a community refrigerator, located at the Boys & Girls Club of Chester, Pa. The first project of its kind in Chester, the community refrigerator is accompanied by a deep freezer and pantry shelving to offer a variety of filling and nutritious foods. 

“At Penn Medicine, our work has shown the importance of food access for the health of the wider community, and helping establish a program that makes gains in this area brings us great pride,” said Kevin Mahoney, CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System. “Everything we do is with an eye toward the communities we serve, and it’s thrilling to have a partner like the Union that shares those priorities. We’re only in the first year of this partnership and already we’re working on projects to benefit the community. I’m excited for what the future holds and what our organizations can achieve together.” 

“The Philadelphia Union remains committed to prioritizing our community’s well-being, and in doing so must address the on-going issue of food insecurity,” said Tim McDermott, President, Philadelphia Union. “Together with Penn Medicine, our collective focus on the health and wellness of the community is at the forefront, and we look forward to the ongoing efforts and impact our partnership brings.”

At the unveiling, the refrigerator was full of fresh items that included, grapes, avocados, tomatoes, raspberries, green beans, and oat milk. The pantry shelves held canned tomato sauce, dry pasta, and apple sauce, while the deep freezer chest sitting opposite the shelves held a variety of cuts of beef and steak. 

The community refrigerator will be open weekdays from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. and available for anyone facing food insecurity. There is a no-questions-asked policy.

An open fridge with vegetables, milk, and other produce.

The refrigerator and pantry shelves will continually be re-stocked weekly through deliveries by the non-profit, food donation facilitator Sharing Excess. The Union will supplement stock with partner donations and provide U-serve opportunities for volunteers to donate food and earn rewards. Additionally, Penn Medicine will conduct volunteer days with their staff to stock the pantry. 

In addition to the fridge unveiling May 4, members of the community attended a free farmers market, where they could collect produce and other essential products provided from Sharing Excess. Residents leaving games at the Boys & Girls Club’s gym with basketballs tucked at their hips grabbed fresh tomatoes and red peppers with their free hands. Other residents danced to a DJ’s music and played tailgate-style games.

“We’re ecstatic: That’s part of our responsibility, to continue to offer opportunities and resources, and the partnership with the Union and Penn Medicine is an awesome opportunity for our youth and the community of Chester,” Derrick T. Billups Sr., the CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Chester, Pa., said at the unveiling. “We’re going to make sure this is open and available to anyone and everyone who wants to take advantage of it.”

Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, excellence in patient care, and community service. The organization consists of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Penn’s Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school.

The Perelman School of Medicine is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $550 million awarded in the 2022 fiscal year. Home to a proud history of “firsts” in medicine, Penn Medicine teams have pioneered discoveries and innovations that have shaped modern medicine, including recent breakthroughs such as CAR T cell therapy for cancer and the mRNA technology used in COVID-19 vaccines.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities stretch from the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania to the New Jersey shore. These include the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Chester County Hospital, Lancaster General Health, Penn Medicine Princeton Health, and Pennsylvania Hospital—the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Medicine at Home, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.

Penn Medicine is an $11.1 billion enterprise powered by more than 49,000 talented faculty and staff.

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