‘Pass the Love’: Michelle Obama’s campaign to fight food insecurity coming to Philly

A closeup of Michelle Obama

In this Dec. 9, 2019, file photo, former first lady Michelle Obama listens to students at the Can Giuoc high school in Long An province, Vietnam. (AP Photo/Hau Dinh, File)

Michelle Obama is on a mission.

The former first lady — in collaboration with the Partnership for a Healthier America and Higher Ground, Michelle and Barack Obama’s production company — seeks to raise funds to distribute 1 million healthy meals to families in need across the U.S.

The effort is part of the Pass the Love w/ Waffles + Mochi campaign, and its next stop is Philly, Obama announced via Twitter on Tuesday.

Parents may recognize Waffles and Mochi as the pair of puppet pals who star in Netflix’s culinary children’s series of the same name alongside Obama.

Starting in August, 5,000 Philadelphia families will receive Pass the Love meal kits created by Genuine Foods with recipes and ingredients inspired by the kids’ show, which debuted in March.

Campaign distributions, expanding on the capacity of local nonprofits to help tackle food insecurity, began earlier this summer in cities like Atlanta and Cleveland.

The hope is that the meal kits — with recipes that are fun, fast, and easy to replicate — expose more families to affordable meal-making and lay the groundwork for better public health.

During the span of four weeks, PHA and Philabundance will distribute 240,000 healthy meals to Philadelphia families experiencing food insecurity.

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, millions more Americans — impacted by illness and job loss — have turned to food banks and anti-hunger nonprofits.

Michelle Obama is pictured with Waffles + Mochi in a promotional image for the 'Pass the Love' campaign
Former first lady Michelle Obama is bringing Pass the Love w/ Waffles + Mochi, a campaign to fight food insecurity, to Philadelphia. (PHA)

Philadelphia has not been spared with regard to rising food insecurity, officials noted.“Last July, Philabundance had already seen demand increase by 50% to 60% in traditionally food-insecure areas, and was on track to give out an average of 2.25 million pounds of food a month compared to 1.25 million pounds a month prior to the pandemic,” PHA officials said in a press release.

Nearly one in five Philadelphians do not have enough healthy food to live a healthy lifestyle, Madeline Bell, president and CEO of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said in a statement. Of the families that come to CHOP’s emergency department, one-third report being food insecure.

Philabundance’s CEO Loree D. Jones said the campaign “could not come at a better time.”

“It is especially urgent now,” Jones said in a statement, “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.”

PHA will target communities with the highest levels of childhood poverty, as identified by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Through focus groups, surveys, and interviews, CHOP plans to evaluate the program’s success and issue a set of recommendations based on its research.

Those interested in donating to the Pass the Love w/ Waffles + Mochi campaign can do so online.

Broke in PhillyWHYY is one of over 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push towards economic justice. Follow us at @BrokeInPhilly.

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