By Ukee Washington
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — One of the hungriest sections of Philadelphia is getting not only food, but healthy food, thanks to the efforts of a Mt. Airy woman and her volunteers.
She didn’t just want to feed people; she wanted to help them be healthier.
Over dinner inside a church basement in West Kensington, kids talk about new foods they’ve tried.
“I tried stuffed peppers,” said 10-year-old Eric Imperial.
“Macaroni and cheese, but it was like a different kind of macaroni and cheese,” said 11-year-old Maria Imperial.
“I tried a lot of stuff that I never tried before,” Eric added.
That’s the point of Sunday Suppers, started by Linda Samost.
“A lot of folks around here don’t have access to healthy food,” Samost explained.
So instead of a food pantry, Linda decided to do something different.
“I came up with this idea of using the family meal as a way to really help people communicate but also to eat better,” Samost said.
Every Sunday, teams of volunteers serve about 15 families. This week, they had salad, healthy wraps and vegetables. There’s no soda. Nothing fried. And they will eat well all week.
Yvonne Cintron, the Sunday Suppers program coordinator, explained, “At the end of the evening, every family gets to leave with a to-go bag, and those are filled with ingredients and recipes.”
The families also learn about exercise. Every Sunday Supper night has a class, from dancing to yoga, for the entire family. There are cooking lessons, too.
Linda Samost says it’s working. Families are eating healthier.
“We have families who used to fry their foods seven days a week who are not frying their food at all anymore. They’re eating more fruits and vegetables,” she said.
They’re passing those lessons onto the next generation.
“It’s become its own community within a community,” said Cintron.
The families all receive SNAP benefits and have at least one minor child. Hospitals, churches and individuals help pay for Sunday Suppers, but Linda says there’s still a big need.
If you’re interested in donating, you can contact Sunday Suppers at their website: http://sundaysuppersphilly.org