Note: This article is a paid placement and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Billy Penn at WHYY.
Local delivery company Philly Foodworks is moving into its next phase. In addition to the popular online farm share, which serves thousands of customers around the region, it’s been rolling out several programs that help people with lower incomes access fresh, local produce — while also helping area farmers survive.
Discounted produce boxes for community partners, IRL neighborhood farm stands, and surplus donations to community fridges all help the company further its goal to create a sustainable food system for all Philadelphians.
Dylan Baird, Philly Foodworks co-founder and CEO, is well aware the groceries sold in his online market are a bit pricier than others. That was on purpose.
“When we created Philly Foodworks, our dream was to support farmers while simultaneously increasing access to local, nutrient-rich food,” Baird said. “Achieving both of those goals was nearly impossible at first, so we prioritized supporting responsible farmers and selling to customers who could afford a slightly higher price point.”
It’s critical if he wants to pay local farmers a truly fair price — one that allows them to offer adequate wages to their farm employees and grow produce in ways that don’t exploit the environment, while allowing them to expand crop selections, which creates more food for everyone.
Now, thanks to a growing roster of regular customers, the company has a strong enough infrastructure to help farmers, supply customers with top-quality local food, and expand its reach to lower-income community members, too.
“As a customer, you are an active participant,” said Baird. “The money you spend with us supports the pillars of a food system that can support everyone in our community.”
Scroll down for a look at the current food access programs PFW customers have made possible — and a coupon code to make it easy for you to get in on the action.
Discounted produce boxes
Philly Foodworks developed the Low-Cost Produce Box (LCPB) program two years ago to make locally grown produce available to more people, and have now delivered over 8,000 of them via community organizations.
They’re offered at a 25% discount over regular prices, which is possible because the boxes are uniform in content — unlike the ones sold in the online market — and because a lot of overhead is covered by online sales.
Philly Foodworks sells these discounted produce boxes to partners who distribute them to their own members, either for free or at sliding-scale prices. So far, 3,600 boxes have gone to Ruth Bennett Community Farm, located on the grounds of the Chester Housing Authority, and 4,600 to Get Fresh Daily, an organization that provides healthy living education focused on Philadelphia’s Black community.
Neighborhood farm stands
A surge of new customers during pandemic lockdowns caused the company to outgrow its previous warehouse. And in the search for a new headquarters, Baird was insistent: “It had to be right in the middle of the community.”
Philly Foodworks began renovations on a warehouse in the Nicetown neighborhood of Philadelphia back in 2021 and finally relocated there in spring of 2022. As soon as the dust settled, the company set up a weekly farm stand where neighbors can buy top-quality local produce and other foods at discounted prices.
Stock is made up of overflow produce from the online market, as well as other products they purchase for their surrounding community. The PFW farm stand has become a hub for neighbors to access fresh fruits and vegetables within walking distance from their homes
The eventual goal is to grow this concept into a fully operational retail space inside the North Philly warehouse.
Weekly food donations
Whatever fresh foods are left over after the farmstand closes are donated to various organizations throughout the city.
Each week, Philly Foodworks delivers surplus fruits and vegetables to West Phillie Produce, Social Impact Cafe, and community fridges in surrounding neighborhoods. It also regularly donates meat for the Sunday Love Project‘s free community meals.
Want to help Philly Foodworks achieve even more?
Sign up for a free account now, and shop the largest selection of locally produced food in the Philadelphia region. Use coupon code BILLYPENNACCESS for $25 off your first order for a limited time.