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PWPM: A food hub and generous donor to those in need

More than a wholesale market that services retailers, foodservice operators and other industry categories, the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market is a true food hub, and it invites the public to come to the market to make purchases.

“It is such an inviting place for people to visit,” Fran Carfagno, director of sales for T.M. Kovacevich International told The Produce News. “It’s nice to see consumers coming in to buy a case of product.”

That the PWPM does not sell individual items, but rather caseloads just like its retail and foodservice clients must buy, is a bit of a deterrent for consumers doing their weekly grocery shopping. But when someone is having a large gathering or celebration, putting up tomato sauce or jams and jellies, the market can be the perfect place to shop by the case.

The tenants at the PWPM are also generous of heart when it comes to giving to those in need. It is the largest single donor to Philabundance, the Delaware Valley’s largest hunger relief organization.

“Our tenants donate about one-million pounds of fresh produce per year to Philabundance,” said Dan Kane, PWPM’s market manager. “Trucks make pickups daily.

“We also offer tours for students, chefs and operators of community kitchens in low income areas,” he continued. “And we have developed a relationship with Food Trust in Philadelphia, which works with neighborhoods, schools, grocers, farmers and policymakers in Philadelphia and across the country to change how we think about healthy food and to increase its availability.”

Food Trust has brought supermarkets to communities that have gone for decades without one. It has helped corner store owners introduce fresh produce, low-fat dairy and whole grains. The organization has been effective at taking soda and junk food out of schools, and it has taught students to appreciate foods like apples and cherry tomatoes.

The “giving from the heart” goes even further at some companies on the PWPM terminal. The floor to ceiling beautiful murals on the walls at T.M. Kovacevich were painted by the Ogontz Avenue Art Co., which is dedicated to teaching fine arts and computer graphics to kids from six to 21 years old, who many people would label as “throw-away-kids.” The organization calls itself a “heads-down” company that is driven by the innate goodness of all kids. It believes that when given a chance kids will succeed in many unexpected ways.

Seeing a nun striding down the spotless aisles of the terminal market with obvious purpose — wearing a smile as wide as her habit is long — stopping along the way at every produce company to ask for food for the needy, is a common, nearly daily sight at the PWPM.

It all comes together in a perfect “full circle” sort of way at the PWPM: people are doing business, and in doing so they are supporting themselves and their families, along with the families of all of the people who work on the market or earn their living in a position that is ancillary to the market. And the business everyone there is in is providing fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables to millions of people that will help to insure that they are getting the nutrition that only fresh produce can provide.

At the same time, the companies at the market are taking care of those who need their help in a multitude of ways — by giving of the heart and by allowing those who are reaching out for help in exchange for what they can offer in return to good use.

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