Toan Tran, 45, and his two children have faced many challenges. His 10-year-old son has been diagnosed with ADHD and autism, and Tran recently regained custody of both of them from the city Department of Human Services.
But one of his greatest challenges has been keeping food on the table while being unemployed. The difficulty forced him to turn to the Salvation Army, one of nearly 500 agencies that distribute food from Philabundance, the region’s largest hunger-relief organization.
“With that food, I don’t have to worry about running out of food. That help me out a lot,” the North Philadelphia resident said in broken English. “It really does help big time.”
Philabundance has seen a 26 percent increase in the number of people receiving food from its agencies in the past year, yet the organization is concerned about families whose children receive free or reduced school lunch and how they will provide during the summer.
The group estimates that for a household with two children two extra meals a day translates to about 40 extra meals per month, which could mean another $110 to $125 per month.
“When you’re having a hard time meeting your bills and paying utilities, it can be devastating,” said Marlo DelSordo, spokeswoman for Philabundance.
SEPTA is doing its fourth annual food drive for Philabundance. Last year the transit agency collected nearly 18 tons of food, which provided about 38,000 meals.
Every other month, Tran gets an assortment of canned goods and meat from the Philabundance program, which he said gives him more time to focus on his children than worrying about where their next meal will come from.
“These people here they really sit down and spend a couple minutes, understand my situation and what I go through,” he said. “I feel good. If I could I would go out there every week.”