One of Philadelphia’s most well-known food programs has undergone a transformation.
It’s mission is the same, but as of last month, Sunday Suppers—a decade-old citywide food and nutrition program—has become Nourish, a new meal kit delivery service run by New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC).
“Although I will no longer be involved in the day-to-day operations,“ Sunday Suppers Director Linda Samost wrote in a letter to supporters, “I will continue to support the efforts of Nourish and NKCDC and I hope you will too, so that they can adopt and expand our original goals of advancing food justice and addressing social determinants of health.”
Since 2011, Sunday Suppers has used weekly three-course community dinners as a forum for hands-on cooking sessions, nutrition advice, and tips for shopping on a limited budget. With the beginning of COVID-19 restrictions in March 2020, the organization made sure participating families had access to food and the funds to buy it, Samost said, and began developing food boxes with healthy recipes and resources.
The new Nourish program, run by Sunday Suppers’ current program manager, Jacquelyn Saez, will deliver weekly meal kits to families containing healthy whole foods, simple recipes, nutritional information, kitchen checklists, suggested physical activity, and social service information. Nourish will also offer bi-weekly Zoom calls focusing on cooking instruction and other pertinent information.
Saez was born and raised in Kensington. While studying Public Health at Temple University, she learned about the links between diet, nutrition education and food access, and the health disparities in low-income communities both locally and globally. The knowledge catalyzed her decision to become a health educator, focusing on cultural traditions and lived experiences of her community and the community she serves. She has been program manager for Sunday Suppers since 2017.
Samost said that she had two objectives when she founded Sunday Suppers in 2011: to strengthen the health and well-being of low-income families, and to one day turn over the daily operations to leaders in the communities it serves.
“The day is finally here,” she said.
“We are grateful for the years of innovative work from Sunday Suppers, the expertise of the staff involved, and the good fit the new Nourish program will be for NKCDC and the communities we serve,” said NKCDC Executive Director Dr. Bill McKinney.
“Our part of Kensington ranks last of 46 Philadelphia neighborhoods surveyed for health factors and health outcomes in a 2019 survey by the City of Philadelphia and Drexel University,” McKinney said. “Good public health means more than good hospitals. It also means having access to healthy, affordable food.”
From 2011 to 2018, NKCDC partnered with St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children to provide weekly boxes of fresh food from Lancaster County farms, available by subscription. When that partnership ended in July 2018, NKCDC began looking for a food and nutrition program that could serve the community around its offices in Kensington.
Since 2018, NKCDC has trained and hired 30 Community Health Workers as part of Philadelphia’s Health Enterprise Zone, funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services in partnership with Thomas Jefferson University. Four of NKCDC’s health workers have been interning with Sunday Suppers and the pilot phase of the Nourish program, providing additional support for participating families through a needs assessment and specialized resource plans.
“The Nourish program is an important next step toward improving health outcomes for Kensington, Fairhill and Juniata residents,” McKinney said. “We ask for everyone’s support in honoring the work of Sunday Suppers by making our new Nourish program a success.”
Donations to Nourish may be made through the NKCDC website at nkcdc.org/nourish.