Around 5,000 food-insecure families in Philadelphia will receive meal kits next month through a collaboration connecting Michelle Obama, Philabundance, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and a national nonprofit that battles health inequity.
The so-called “Pass the Love with Waffles + Mochi” campaign combines the whimsy of a Netflix children’s show — featuring Obama herself — with the earnest mission of feeding those in need in large cities such as Philadelphia.
“I’m excited to announce that Philadelphia will be our next partner city for our Pass the Love campaign,” Obama said in a tweet. “We’ll be distributing healthy meal kits to families soon.”
The nonprofit Partnership for a Healthier America, headquartered in Washington, is spearheading the initiative. The organization works to make healthy food available nationwide to those in need. It was founded in partnership with the Let’s Move Campaign, created in 2010 by Obama when she was first lady. The campaign aimed to reduce childhood obesity and encourage a healthy lifestyle in children.
These days, both the former first lady and former President Barack Obama run Higher Ground Productions, which produces Waffles + Mochi, a children’s television series that was released on Netflix in March.
The former first lady engages with puppets on the show, and young viewers learn about food, culture, and cooking.
The plan for Philadelphia is to distribute meal kits beginning Aug. 2 for dishes such as potato massaman curry, sesame coconut noodles salad, and sweet potato black bean stew, according to the Partnership.
Recipients will be able to cook the meals, using the ingredients and instructions supplied. The kits will produce some 240,000 meals, according to the Partnership.
“The ‘Pass the Love’ campaign could not come at a better time,” said Loree Jones, CEO of Philabundance, a regional food-relief agency. “It is especially urgent now, because of the impact the pandemic has had on both the availability and quality of food for so many in the Philadelphia region — especially children.”
Around 20% of Philadelphians don’t have enough food to lead a healthy lifestyle, Madeline Bell, president and CEO of CHOP, said in a statement. And “nearly one-third of the families that come to [CHOP’s] emergency department report that they are food insecure,” she added.
The Partnership’s meal-kit distribution program “is targeting communities with the highest levels of childhood poverty,” Bell said.
The food pantries and other entities that receive food from Philabundance will determine the families who will be involved in the project, a Philabundance spokesperson said Tuesday.
The spokesperson added that Obama has not released a statement saying whether she’ll be traveling to Philadelphia as the project is rolled out.
The hospital will be asked to evaluate the impact of the Partnership program in Philadelphia as well as in other cities to be named in the coming months.
“Partnership for a Healthier America is honored to be able to serve families with good food in a format that makes it easier to cook at home,” Nancy Roman, the organization’s president and CEO, said in a statement. She added that the Partnership “is working hard to create access and exposure to affordable meal-making for families, laying the groundwork for the good health we all deserve.”