PHILADELPHIA (Jan. 30, 2023) — One in nine Americans face hunger; yet in Philadelphia, the statistic is one in ten people who are food-insecure, continuing to make hunger a critical issue in our community. Philabundance is the largest hunger-relief organization in the Philadelphia region, serving communities across the nine counties in Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey, and was founded on the simple belief that no one should go hungry while healthy food goes to waste.
“While Philabundance serves over 135,000 people each week, there are more than 500,000 people, including children and seniors, who go to bed each night not knowing where their next meal is coming from – or if they’ll have one at all,” said Loree Jones Brown, Chief Executive Officer of Philabundance.
To help Philabundance, Toyota and 25 local Toyota Dealers along with more than two dozen of their business partners will, again, be putting the “drive” in food drive.
On Friday morning, February 3, as part of the 14th edition of the “Toyota Tundra Food Drive,” a convoy of nearly 85 Toyota Tundras – measuring almost seven football fields in length – will caravan through the streets of Philadelphia hauling pallets of food to help those facing hunger while also raising overall awareness for Philabundance and its mission.
The hallmark food drive event is making its highly-anticipated return to Philadelphia this month – and, is the pinnacle celebration of annual efforts coordinated by Toyota and the local Tri-State Toyota Dealers to help support Philabundance’s mission to “end hunger, for good.”
“It’s just unconscionable to think that so many people in our communities are in need of food, and Philabundance is a major lifeline to those who are food-insecure in our communities,” said the President of the Tri-State Toyota Dealers Association, Paul Muller. “There are a lot of things people should be, and ‘hungry’ is just not one of them. That’s what makes it so important for us to stay involved to help drive hunger away from every table in our local communities,” Muller added.
The food will be purchased by Philabundance through donations collected in 2021 and 2022 from Toyota and the Tri-State Toyota Dealers Association (which comprises 25 dealerships in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware) along with more than 30 of the Dealers’ business partners – including television/cable outlets, radio stations, digital/social media firms, local print media companies, and Philadelphia’s professional sports organizations.
“On behalf of Toyota and all 25 Tri-State Toyota Dealers across the Delaware and Lehigh Valleys, and with the tremendous support of our local business partners in the Philadelphia media and professional sports communities, we are all very proud to provide Philabundance with yet another record-level food donation this year,” said Paul Muller.
The total food donation to Philabundance from this “Toyota Tundra Food Drive” is the largest in the event’s 14-year history, providing Philabundance with 654,000 pounds of food to help those in need – a 45% increase over the amount of food provided through the last Hauling Away Hunger event initiative held in December 2019.
“With the support of Toyota, our Dealer body makes it a mission to give back to the community and this year’s Haul Away Hunger campaign is our largest effort to date for Philabundance,” said Dom Conicelli, Vice President of the Tri-State Toyota Dealers Association and owner of two Toyota dealerships in Pennsylvania. “In addition to the donation impact, our hope is that our Haul Away Hunger event helps to raise the awareness for how widespread food insecurity is in Greater Philadelphia and the importance behind the incredible hunger-relief work being done by Philabundance in our communities throughout the year,” Conicelli added.
The annual effort is an important part of Toyota’s overall ongoing support for Philabundance.
“The Haul Away Hunger event each year is a tremendous opportunity to partner with our Dealers to make a difference in their local communities,” said Ben Pyle, General Manager of Toyota’s Central Atlantic Region, which includes Pennsylvania and Delaware. “All of us at Toyota are truly grateful for the opportunity to join with our Dealers to make a real difference in the region, and we’re proud of the donations we help enable together through the annual Haul Away Hunger effort because it means that families in need will have healthy food on the table they might not otherwise be able to afford,” Pyle added.
“This year, and every year, we are humbled and honored to help support our dealers’ vital partnership with Philabundance to highlight the importance of hunger-relief efforts,” said Chad Deutsch, General Manager of Toyota’s New York Region, which includes southern New Jersey. “Toyota is more than an automotive company; we are a mobility company. So, to be able to use a fleet of our full-size trucks to enable a cause that will help Philabundance put food on so many tables in our region is a perfect fit for us to help make a difference,” Deutsch added.
“Toyota Financial Services takes pride in our partnership with our Toyota Dealers especially when it comes to our local charities,” said Deanna Kostelnik, New York Region Regional Portfolio Manager for Toyota Financial Services (TFS). “_Philabundance is a perfect opportunity for our TFS Team and Dealers to work together and support so many families in need. We are honored to donate again to such an important cause and participate in this an amazing event,_” Kostelnik added.
Aimed to help raise awareness for Philabundance, the Tundra convoy event on Friday, February 3 will haul just a portion of the overall food made possible with the Haul Away Hunger campaign donations raised in 2021 and 2022 … just the beginning of the anti-hunger impact with an overall donation impact in excess of 325 tons of food will make in 2022-2023.
“We’ve learned a lot about how to best help Philabundance while working with them over the years, and part of what we do is provide them with a flexible donation,” said Bob McCormick, the Tri-State Toyota Dealers Association Board Secretary and Toyota Dealer in New Jersey. “Philabundance serves over 135,000 people a week throughout the Delaware Valley and so our initial delivery is just a small part of the impact the overall donation will have to help Philabundance’s ongoing hunger relief efforts in 2023,” McCormick added.
The flexible donation from the “Toyota Tundra Food Drive” campaign will give Philabundance the ability to provide healthy food immediately and over the course of the next several months – in total, providing 436,000 nourishing meals to those in need in our communities.
“Thanks to the Tri-State Toyota Dealers Association and all of their business partners involved in this campaign, Philabundance will be able to provide food to those in need now and into 2023. These donations are needed now more than ever as many families struggle to put food on the table due to the increased cost of food,” Loree Jones Brown said. “This total donation for over 325 tons of food will provide much-needed relief for our neighbors in need for less than one week.”
Though the cause is quite serious, the mood of the day at the annual “Toyota Tundra Food Drive” will be festive.
“In addition to all of the good we’re doing for Philabundance, and the communities they serve, our Toyota Tundra Food Drive event is also such a terrific opportunity to bring people from various partner organizations together on one day to ‘do good’ – together,” said Brad Paul, a Tri-State Toyota Dealers Association Board Member who will also be driving the first Tundra hauling food in this year’s convoy. “It’s absolutely terrific to see the genuine excitement our business partners have to help our cause for Philabundance. And, a convoy line of over 80 Toyota Tundras Hauling Away Hunger is always a very fun, interesting, and unique way to do it – I’ll be honored to lead it for us this year.”
The awe-inspiring truck convoy will depart from Philabundance’s North Philadelphia warehouse, make the 7-mile trip down Columbus Boulevard and arrive at Citizens Bank Park, where it will be greeted by a throng of supporters, media personalities as well as local sports icons, mascots and cheer teams.
“Toyota continues to be a driving force in the community, especially when it comes to helping feed hungry families in need,” said Jackie Cuddeback, Phillies Senior Vice President of Partnership Sales & Corporate Marketing. “Combatting food insecurity is an equally important issue to the Phillies, and we are honored to once again join Toyota as they ‘haul away hunger’ with 650,000 pounds of food delivered for Philabundance during this tremendously important event.”
An essential element to the annual event’s success is the support from the Toyota Dealers’ local media and professional sports team partners, and Paul Muller stated he’s excited to celebrate the partnerships and collaboration that have made Toyota’s charitable vision a reality in his hometown:
“There are very few cities where the spirit of ‘brotherly love’ is tangible with so many individuals from competing organizations coming together to do something so good and meaningful for the community,” said Paul Muller. “Seeing all that we can accomplish when working together, I am not only tremendously proud to be a part of the ‘Toyota Family’, I am proud to be a Philadelphian!”
The annual event is a “Toyota Family” affair, uniting the Tri-State Toyota Dealers with their partners at Toyota Financial Services, the Central Atlantic and New York sales regions of Toyota Motor North America, and ToyotaLift Northeast — the latter of which is once again providing the Toyota forklifts used to off-load the food donated to Philabundance.
“It is an honor for us pool the resources of our entire ‘Toyota Family’ to participate with so many of our business partners in giving back to our communities through the assistance provided to Philabundance through our annual Haul Away Hunger event,” said Paul Muller.
“From pickup trucks to forklifts to tractor-trailers to more than three dozen of our Toyota Associates on the ground, there are several divisions of Toyota supporting our dealers’ efforts for this annual food drive,” said Andrew Gilleland, Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations for Toyota Motor North America. “It is a privilege for all of us at Toyota to bring so many of the company’s resources to bear each year on supporting our dealers with such an important and impactful cause,” Gilleland added.
“ToyotaLift Northeast and all of its associates consider it a great privilege to be part of this food drive with the Tri-State Dealer Association in support of Philabundance,” said Michael Carra, Vice President of Sales at ToyotaLift Northeast LLC. “What Philabundance supplies is more than food; they provide hope. It is that hope which Philabundance delivers to those in need in this great city of brotherly love. We are proud to partner with Philabundance on this great endeavor,” Carra added.
And, there will be lots of local help again this year to operate the Toyota forklifts and construct the safe environment for event participants to watch them do their work.
Members of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) have once again donated their time on their “day off” to help load and deliver nearly 85 pallets of healthy food to Philabundance. More than a dozen apprentice operators (lead by senior operators and teachers from the union operator training center) will spend nearly a day’s worth of donated time to assist the hauling of food for Philabundance during the one-day event:
“It is so important to us to be a part of this event each year and have our apprentices have the opportunity to give back and utilize their skills for good in our community,” said Dan Sullivan, President of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 542 and Coordinator of the Apprenticeship and Safety Training Program. “More than a dozen apprentice operators lead by senior operators and teachers from the union operator training center spend several hours of donated time to assist the haul of thousands of pounds of food for Philabundance during the one day event,” Sullivan added.
Members of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters Local 158 will also be on-site again this year to donate their time to help build and setup the event’s facilities – helping enable Toyota and its business partners to safely deliver several hundred tons of healthy food for Philabundance to help feed those in need:
“The brothers and sisters of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters Local Union 158 have always been committed to assisting important Philadelphia institutions like Philabundance,” said William C. Sproule, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters. “Every holiday season, local Philadelphia carpenters donate their time to help in the preparation, build and event set-up along with community partners like Toyota to help those in need,” Sproule added.
While the “Toyota Tundra Food Drive” event’s spirit is light, its mission is serious.
“We have seen during past events that as our apprentice operators work alongside senior operators to help unload and pack over 80 pallets of food for Philabundance, we can see them take away the importance and difference they are making with their labor and we could not be more honored to be a part of this event again this year,” said Dan Sullivan.
The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the causes of hunger over the last two years. Supply chain issues, inflation and rising food costs have also affected food insecurity in Philabundance service areas and the nation.
“These past two years have served as a stark reminder of the food insecurity within our communities, and it’s more important now than ever that we work together to find meaningful opportunities to give back to those who need it most right now,” said Paul Muller.
Throughout, Philabundance has continued to sustain and create initiatives to serve the community, helping to reduce food waste, increase access to nutritious meals, and tackle the root causes of hunger. However, access to fresh, healthy food has become increasingly difficult and Philabundance faces daily challenges sourcing staple food items. Support means everything.
“Many people think about us around the holidays, and for that we’re grateful, but hunger is an issue 365 days a year, especially now as we deal with the effect of inflation and rising food costs. We need everyone to get involved more than ever to help drive hunger from our communities today,” said Loree Jones Brown.
“As the local Toyota Dealers, we all live and work in this community and want to do something that not only supports Philabundance with the food they need today, but also helps them fight hunger year-round,” said Scott Richardson, a Tri-State Toyota Dealers Association Board Member who operates two Toyota dealerships in New Jersey. “Just one meal makes a difference, and it’s truly humbling to see all of the support we receive from our business partners on this event given every meal we help provide is another worry off someone’s plate,” Richardson added.
Hunger relief is a year-round need, which is why Toyota and the Tri-State Toyota Dealers hope that hope that the 14th edition of the “Toyota Tundra Food Drive” will inspire other organizations and individuals to help Philabundance in any way possible.
“For companies and individuals that would like to get involved with Philabundance, I would tell them: ‘Don’t underestimate your impact. You can do a tremendous amount of good with, quite frankly, a small amount of effort and not a lot of money’,” Paul Muller said. “We can all do our part to help in whatever way we can, large or small, so we hope our food drive event will inspire folks to contact Loree and her team to see how they can assist Philabundance in their fight against hunger,” Muller added.
To find out how you and your organization can get involved in hunger relief, visit www.philabundance.org and join the conversation on social media with the hashtags #HaulAwayHunger and #TundraFoodDrive.
“You can do tremendous amounts of good with even a small amount of effort – it just takes each person doing a little bit at a time. If enough people do that, it makes all the difference in the world,” said Paul Muller.
Philabundance and the Tri-State Toyota Dealers welcome all credentialed media to attend the 14th Annual “Toyota Tundra Food Drive” in Toyota Parking Lot P at Citizens Bank Park on Friday, Feb. 3, between 11:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. Note: the Tundra Convoy’s arrival is estimated to be around 11:45 a.m. Credentialed media may please utilize the two “Media Contacts” listed below to make arrangements to attend.
Please note that the “Toyota Tundra Food Drive” event is only open to invited attendees and credentialed news media. The event is not open to the public and none of the wholesale food donated/delivered onsite in bulk will be available or readied for Philabundance client distribution. For those seeking food assistance immediately, please call 1-800-5-HUNGRY or visit Philabundance’s Web site: www.philabundance.org/find-food/