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A new group promises long-term support for Puerto Rican hurricane evacuees

March 1, 2018



Philadelphia disaster relief organizations have established a new committee designed to help the city support the more than 900 Puerto Rican families who landed here after losing their homes, schools, and jobs in the winds of Hurricane Maria. The move is a major step towards creating the long-term recovery strategy that city officials and community advocates have struggled to create in the five months since the storm caused upwards of $9 billion in damages and displaced hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens.

Now getting off the ground, the Greater Philadelphia Long Term Recovery Committee will provide disaster evacuees in Philadelphia and its surrounding boroughs a centralized place for services, something needed since Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management’s disaster center closed last December.

The group will be hosted by the local chapter of the National Voluntary Organizations in Disaster (NVOAD), a coalition that assists communities affected by disasters. Julia Menzo, coordinator of disaster preparedness and recovery for Liberty Lutheran and Southeastern Pennsylvania VOAD co-chair, said the committee will gather information from organizations that have been working with evacuees and assign families a case manager to document and digitalize their needs. The case manager’s job will be following up with evacuee families over the longer term as they settle into the city, return home or go elsewhere.

The group still doesn’t know exactly how many Puerto Rican evacuee families are staying in Philadelphia, but as of the last count in December, 875 families had visited OEM’s disaster center, and 380 displaced students had entered the Philadelphia School district.

“By having a way to looking at all the most urgent cases at the same time, we can make some determinations about priorities and then equitably distribute to them,” Menzo said.

Another goal of the new committee is coordinating efforts across local and federal agencies and organizations.

“Recovery is a collective response, from government agencies through community and faith-based organizations,” Noëlle Foizen, deputy director of Philadelphia OEM, said in an email. “Long-term recovery groups bring together all these resources to share information, pool resources, identify possible problems as well as solutions, all with the goal of getting the disaster survivor back on their feet.”

If federal funds are available to the evacuees, agencies in the long-term recovery committee can assist them in locating and securing the resources, Foizen said.

She described the city’s post-Maria struggles as a learning experience that will prove useful in a world of increasingly extreme weather.

“As the United States sees more natural disasters, we, as a region, need to be thoughtful of disasters that hit home, but also afar,” Foizen said. “Hurricane Maria was a new experience for the city. Just as other responses, we look to learn and improve to prepare for the next event.”

VOAD is not new to the region. It’s operated in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware and Chester for the past 10 years yet this is the first time it is responding to a disaster that happened outside of the region, and the first time its created a long-term recovery group locally. Menzo, too, expects this won’t be the last time VOAD finds itself in this position.

“The volatility of the world seems to be increasing, so I don’t see an end for the need to respond to unique situations anytime soon,” Menzo said.

Last Friday, Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló promised to contact Governor Tom Wolf and FEMA to declare Pennsylvania as a host state and get federal funds for housing for evacuees staying in Philadelphia. A FEMA spokesperson said that the agency has not received a formal request or notification of a host state agreement between Puerto Rico and Pennsylvania.

“So we have to move on,” said Will González, the executive director of Ceiba, a nonprofit that is part of the new committee. “The long-term recovery group will provide access to some national nongovernmental resources in a time when there’s a growing need.”

About 2,500 Puerto Rican families moved to Pennsylvania after Hurricane Maria, according to FEMA. The Greater Philadelphia Long Term Recovery Committee Continues estimates the number will grow to 56,000 by the end of the year, and that about 50 percent of them will be in Philadelphia.

Those still staying in city hotels paid by FEMA’s Temporary Shelter Assistance (TSA) program have less than a month to find funds to pay the three months of rent needed to move to a new place. And those staying with friends and family, sometimes in sofas or in mattresses on the floor, won’t be able to stretch the love a lot longer.

“We have families living in one-bedroom apartment where there are six, seven, eight people in the same room, and places where three families are living in the same apartment,” said Reverend Robertoluis Lugo, director of intervention and prevention development at Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM). “They don’t have privacy, they’re on top of each other… it’s too much pressure. They’ll be kicked out in any minute.”

Puerto Rican evacuees can seek help at Catholic Social Services’ Casa del Carmen or APM in North Philadelphia. Other agencies participating are Ceiba, Lutheran Disaster Response, Salvation Army, Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management, United Church of Christ Disaster Services (UCC), and American Red Cross.


-— Editors Note March 1, 2018: This article has been updated since its original publication.


Original Article – http://planphilly.com/articles/2018/02/28/a-new-group-promises-long-term-support-for-puerto-rican-hurricane-evacuees

Three Kings and Octavitas bring a taste of home for Puerto Ricans starting over in Philly

January 16, 2018

From WHYY  • Kyrie Greenberg   January 14, 2018

Three Kings Day and Octavitas are two post-Christmas holiday celebrations important in Latin America. For recent arrivals from Puerto Rico it felt like home when they visited a community center in North Philadelphia this weekend.
They were treated to a party packed with families drinking hot chocolate and eating cake. During the event, Raul Berrios reflects why he and his nine-year-old son Asaf left his home a couple months ago. A musician, Berrios says his family has deep roots in San Juan and never thought a storm would chase them out since they had weathered several hurricanes
“But Maria? Wow, man…we had to move here because when the hurricane came. It’s something that if I explain to you- I can’t imagine that that’s going to happen,” he said.
Every part of his life there is now unrecognizable. “I was part of a brass band and we had just finished an album of music for kids and were planning a big concert in the city’s main plaza,” said Berrios. “That plaza is gone and I haven’t seen any of those guys [since the storm], they all moved to different places.”
Nydia Lugos is a social worker for Asociacion Puertorriquenos en Marcha or APM who says her organization sees about five new displaced Puerto Rican families a day seeking services. She says the biggest obstacles for her clients are the time limits on federal emergency aid and the city’s lack of affordable housing.
“Many of these people, they don’t have any plan to go back to the island,” explained Lugos. “And I feel that the help they are getting is limited because they are expecting them to go back,” she said.
The tipping point for the Berrios family was when the devastation interrupted Raul’s cancer treatment and Asaf acquired a serious infection from polluted water. Asaf’s mother already was living in Philly for work, which lead them to join the estimated 800 Puerto Rican families who have relocated here following Hurricane Maria in October.
Dressed as one of the three kings or wise men, who according to tradition visit the baby Jesus, Tashonn Bungy helped distribute presents to every child at the celebration. Bungee is a resource coordinator for APM, which sponsored the event. Recent snow days delayed the Three Kings Day celebration, he explained, so they’re technically celebrating Octavitas — a Puerto Rican tradition of celebrating the eight days following the epiphany, which is on January 6th.
“It’s about people coming over and realizing you’re not alone, that there are people here to encourage, people here you can feel safe with and people that you feel like, ‘OK, that’s something I can recognize and I can be a part of and I can appreciate and they actually appreciate me, they’re thinking about me,” said Bungee before donning a blue robe and gold crown.
Nydia Lugos says most families have wasted no time finding work here and enrolling their kids in public schools. “They are really moving on it,” she said.
After lining up medical treatment for himself and Asaf, Raul Berrios says he’s found work doing what he did back home: teaching music and making instruments out of recycled materials, this time for kids in Camden and North Philly.
He still worries about their new life here: his temporary apartment funded through FEMA ends in two weeks and Asaf is still adjusting to his new fourth grade class. But for Three Kings Day, they looked at home playing in the party’s calypso band.

Original Post: https://whyy.org/articles/three-kings-octavitas-bring-taste-home-puerto-ricans-starting-philly/

HUD awards $1.3M to renew support to APM

January 10, 2018

Philadelphia Tribune – Health Briefs – January 9, 2018

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced $1.3 million has been awarded to Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha, Inc., commonly known as APM, to assist low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS in Philadelphia. This funding is offered through HUD’s Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS Program and will be used to continue providing 30 households with Tenant-Based Rental Assistance and supportive services. Additionally, APM will assist 30 households with permanent housing placement services annually. The majority of program participants are low-income/homeless Latino persons living with HIV/AIDS.

Original post: http://www.phillytrib.com/news/health/health-briefs/article_706f2b31-5dd1-5f05-a6e8-6dd7fe1f3c90.html

First hearings for proposed APM Charter School

December 21, 2017


SEE FULL STORY: http://thenotebook.org/articles/2017/12/19/first-hearings-held-for-nine-proposed-new-charters

THE NOTEBOOK (December 19, 2017)-

First hearings held for nine proposed new charters

Eight management companies seeking to open nine new charter schools in Philadelphia made their initial pitches on Monday to a hearing officer for the School Reform Commission.

Among the companies was ASPIRA. Just last week, the SRC voted to close two of ASPIRA’s charter schools — Olney High and Stetson Middle.

ASPIRA wants to expand two charter schools and move one, despite evidence that it has been unable to operate its existing charter schools without running deficits. The Charter Schools Office has found, among other irregularities, that ASPIRA uses money meant for the education of students at Stetson Middle and Olney High —both of which are former District-run schools— to guarantee loans that the organization took out to purchase other buildings offering different services. The SRC voted 4-1 on Thursday not to renew those charters, and it is making plans to return the schools to District control.

The company’s finances were further hurt by payouts from sexual harassment lawsuitsagainst CEO Alfredo Calderon.

“The SRC continued to fund these Aspira schools despite serious allegations of fraud, ghost contractors for painting Olney high school, admitted misuse of taxpayer dollars, failure to make PSERS payments, and other serious financial transgressions,” Lisa Haver said during her public comment at the hearing. Haver is the co-founder of the Alliance for Public Schools (APPS), an activist group that considers itself a watchdog of the SRC and charter expansion. “After following the Aspira financial and academic scandals for over two years, it’s hard to believe that they believe they are in line to open more schools.”

ASPIRA wants to relocate the Antonio Pantoja Preparatory Charter School to 4322 N. Fifth St. in the Hunting Park neighborhood of North Philadelphia. The building now houses ASPIRA’s corporate headquarters. The K-8 school would also expand its enrollment cap, serving up to 925 students at full enrollment, and would open with 425 students in the 2018-19 school year. It’s unclear what this would mean for some of the existing students because the school’s enrollment is now 700.

Most of the charter school presentations compared academic metrics between the charter company’s existing schools and the public schools in the neighborhood where they would open.

But ASPIRA did things a bit differently. It compared Antonio Pantoja to the 9th-grade and 5th-grade classes at Olney and Stetson respectively — their own schools now slated for closure. And it showed that its students who spent four years at Antonio Pantoja for middle school were outperforming 9th-graders at Olney.

The assumption was that all students entering the 9th grade at Olney came from one of the neighborhood public schools, and so their poor performance was implied to be a reflection of those schools. But North Philadelphia has a high concentration of charter schools, and Olney also accepts students through a lottery — factors that were not cited by ASPIRA.

ASPIRA did not offer direct comparisons with neighborhood public schools. State data show that Antonio Pantoja is struggling with standardized test scores and is in the second-lowest of five tiers, although it is making growth expectations in math and English language arts.

The school’s last evaluation from the District Charter Schools Office showed that it is the guarantor of a $5.4 million mortgage on its current building, though that loan is in forbearance. The evaluation found that the school’s short-term and long-term financial health was “significantly below standard,” and the school is more than $14 million in debt.

Last year, the school had $9.8 million in revenue and just over $11 million in expenses.

ASPIRA also wants to expand Eugenio Maria de Hostos from its current 440 students to 850, starting with 750 in the 2018-19 school year.

De Hostos ranks in the lowest tier of the state’s school performance profiles and is meeting testing growth goals only in math. The District, which has its own school performance measure,  has evaluated the school more favorably than the state, putting its academics in the second-lowest category and giving the school an overall rating of “reinforce,” the second-highest tier.

The charter office’s annual evaluation found that the school’s short- and long-term financial health is significantly below standard and that the school is more than $9 million in debt.

Last year, the school had $9.1 million in revenue and $8.8 million in expenses. At that rate, without expanding, it would take the school roughly 30 years to pay off its $9 million in debt.

De Hostos is located in the massive old Cardinal Dougherty High School building, which is the source of most of ASPIRA’s debt.  The organization has used state funds meant for operating Olney and Stetson to guarantee the mortgage on the Dougherty building. Those loans are also now in forbearance, and the organization plans to secure new short-term bridge loans to begin paying again — a financial practice that is frowned upon.

Expanding enrollment at its existing charter schools would help it make those payments because it would receive per-pupil amounts from the state and District for the additional students.


Another well-known operator that is applying for more seats is Mastery Charter, which proposed to open a new K-8 school at 900 W. Jefferson St. in North Philadelphia. The school would open in the 2019-20 school year, serving grades K-2, and would then expand, serving all grades with 672 students by the 2022-23 school year.

“Assessment and data are really the backbone of our program,” Mastery CEO Scott Gordon told hearing officer Allison Peterson. “We look not only where the student is, but at where they were previously. … That information is translated into a visual dashboard for teachers and administrators.”

Gordon added that Mastery plans to incorporate “social and emotional programming” into its elementary school curriculum and that it now trains all its staff in “trauma-informed care.”

The school would have a catchment area of one mile around, making a perfect circle on the map. It would be located in the building that formerly housed Wakisha Charter School, which closed in the middle of the school year after it failed to get enough students and teachers to sustain itself.

Gordon said Mastery has already raised $1.3 million in start-up costs. The company has a long history of successful private fundraising, including millions from the Philadelphia School Partnership.


Franklin Towne, which currently runs a national blue-ribbon charter high school, is proposing to open its own middle school at 5301 Tacony St. in Frankford — in the same building as its high school. It would link Franklin Towne’s elementary school to its high school, acting as a feeder. The school would serve grades 6-8 and open in the 2019-20 school year at its maximum enrollment of 450 students.

“If granted, we would be able, capable, willing and anxious to open a middle school to better serve the students in the 19137 area,” said Patrick Field, chief academic officer of Franklin Towne.

Franklin Towne has a solid academic record at both its elementary school and its high school.

However, the company is also known for running schools where the vast majority of the student body is white — 71 percent at its high school and 86 percent at its elementary school.


The Asociacion Puertorriquenos en Marcha (Association of Puerto Ricans on the March), which runs four Head Start programs in the city, is applying to open a K-8 charter school at 405 E. Roosevelt Blvd. in the Olney neighborhood of North Philadelphia. The school would enroll 312 K-4 students when it opened in the 2018-19 school year and 624 K-8 students in the 2021-22 school year at full enrollment.

APM would also use the building as a hub for other community services that it already offers: financial counseling and behavioral health. It also constructd affordable housing in the same neighborhood.

“Our satisfied preschool parents have constantly asked us — particularly when it comes time to transitioning into kindergarten — for a charter school,” said Don Price, APM’s vice president for education and training. He called his vision for the school a “true community charter school.”

There will also be an emphasis on Spanish, with students beginning to learn the language in kindergarten.


MaST has proposed opening a K-12 school that, if approved, would be the biggest charter school in the city. It would open with 1,000 K-4 students in the 2018-19 school year and would reach a full enrollment of 2,600 students in all grades. The school would be located at 1 Crown Way, near the Northeast Philadelphia Airport.

The original MaST won national blue-ribbon designation.  The second school was founded in 2016, so no academic data are available from the state or city.

The new school would receive support from several school-choice advocacy groups: the Charter School Growth Fund, the Philadelphia School Partnership, Coalition of Charter Schools and the Keystone Alliance.

John Swoyer III, CEO of MaST’s first school, said the new school “won’t give preference to any zip codes” unless the District otherwise specifies, in which case he would be willing to give up to 50 percent of the seats to zip codes specified by the District.

Like Franklin Towne, MaST is one of just a handful of schools in the city that are majority white.

Swoyer said he thinks the school’s proximity to union headquarters in  Northeast Philadelphia would make it easy to create partnerships with trade unions. The school plans to offer courses in the trades as well as 3D design and manufacturing.

Swoyer also plans to build a Drone Zone, a space used for students to fly and design their own drones — like those that may be used as delivery vehicles in the future.


A national charter operator called Hebrew Public proposed opening a school at 3300 Henry Ave, in the East Falls neighborhood. The school would open in the 2019-20 school year with 156 students in grade K-1. By the 2026-27 school year, it would reach full capacity of 702 students in grades K-8.

Students would get daily instruction in the Hebrew language and extended daily instruction in math and English.

Students would learn the language “accompanying the study of the history and present reality of the state of Israel,” according to Jon Rosenberg, CEO of Hebrew Public. The non-profit also organizes and fundraises for a 10-day trip to Israel for interested students.

The organization already runs several charter schools in New York state.


Qor Charter School proposed to open an elementary school at 4290 Penn St. in Frankford. It would open in the 2019-20 school year, serving 72 students in grades K-1. It would reach full enrollment of 312 students in the 2024-25 school year.

The school would use a project-based learning curriculum, although it would still include traditional assessments. Teachers would also use kinesthetic learning, the use of physical activities during academic coursework. Special education students would be included in every classroom, as opposed to learning in a separate special education classroom.

Teachers would help design personalized student learning plans, then periodically re-evaluate them as students are given new personal goals.


Roundball Education Inc., located in Texas, wants to open the Pennsylvania Institute Academy Charter School, a high school, in the 2019-20 school year with 320 seats.

The CEO of Roundball, Ronald Ravenell, said the school would “serve students who have been sent to alternative education programs or are at risk of academic failure.”

The school’s curriculum would be part of the Jesuit College Preparatory Model.

“The national dropout rate is high, and our prisons are full to capacity,” Ravenell said. “The outcome after experiencing academic failure tends to be a life of crime.”

Roundball’s 990 form, last filed in 2011, shows that Ravenell is the only person associated with the company, which raised a little over $16,000 between 2007 and 2011.


“Aspira had to settle several suits brought against the company because of the sexual harassment perpetrated by Aspira Philadelphia CEO Alfredo Calderone. Unbelievably, he is still CEO… [Dawn Lynn Kacer, head of the CSO] testified that the financial improprieties had not only not been resolved, as promised by Kenneth Trujillo in May 2016, they had actually gotten worse,” Haver said in her public comment. “For the SRC to agree to put the education of more young people into the hands of Aspira would be a clear dereliction of duty.”

She ceded the floor to several other activists from the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools (APPS), familiar faces to anyone who regularly attends the SRC.

“Corporate charter schools continue to fight the SRC even today challenging the District’s right to oversee our public school students’ academic progress in their schools,” Lynda Rubin said during her public comment. “The SRC was put in place to purportedly shore up the financial supports for real public education in Phialdelphia. Not to hold a fire sale, selling or giving away its parts to private companies masquerading as public education stakeholders.”

Karel Kilimnik took issue with the argument made by SRC commissioners like Bill Green, that the SRC is not legally allowed to consider the financial impact that authoizing new charter schools would have on the District, since students take state dollars with them when they leave to attend a charter.

Kilimnik read from the 2015 SRC testimony of David Lapp, who was then an attorney with the Education Law Center:

“I testified to the District that, when reviewing new charter school applications, the factors the District should consider cut against approval of new charters in the current fiscal and educational climate. This is especially true given the dearth of evidence that the charter sector has achieved superior results.

“There have been recent public comments that suggest a mistaken belief that the charter law requires the SRC to approve new applications without considering the impact on District students. To the contrary, since the District has been declared to be in fiscal distress and the state constitution still requries that there be a ‘thorough and efficient system of public education,’ the impact of charter expansion on all students should be the most important consideration of all. But since questions have been raised, I wish to briefly clarify why such considerations are also legally valid.

“The bottom line is that there has never been a [Charter Appeals Board] or court holding that a fiscally distressed school district is prevented from considering the educational impact on all students, including students in District schools and existing charter schools, when deciding whether to approve a new charter school application. In addition, no cases have addressed these issus since the charter reimbursement was eliminated. As you identify problems with the merits of a partricular charter application, you should be sure to also include, in the alternative, evidence and findings that approving the charter would negatively impact the educational experience of all students, including District students.”

APM Sugarcane Festival 2017

June 3, 2017

A photo collage of the images of our 2017 Sugarcane Festival. June 3, 2017

Music by Funk Salsa Urban




Four housing leaders honored during PHFA’s Housing Forum

May 12, 2017

Kuam News | Click here to view article

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SOURCE Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency
Awards applaud their exceptional work and inspire others to lead housing

HARRISBURG, Pa., May 12, 2017 /PRNewswire-­USNewswire/ ­­ The Pennsylvania
Housing Finance Agency today recognized four leaders in the affordable housing
field during its biennial Housing Forum at the Hilton Harrisburg.

Honored with the agency’s Housing Pioneer Award were:

  • Nilda Ruiz, president and CEO, Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha
  • Rose Gray, Senior Vice President, Community and Economic Development,
    Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha
  • Keith B. Key, president and CEO, KBK Enterprises
  • Jeffrey Woda, principal, The Woda Group

“PHFA is grateful to these four housing leaders for all they’ve done to expand the
availability of housing in Pennsylvania and to be champions for affordable
housing,” said PHFA’s Executive Director and CEO Brian A. Hudson Sr. “They often
work tirelessly in the background, and today we wanted to take the time to
recognize their considerable contributions in our state. They are an inspiration to
the rest of us who work alongside them.”
PHFA’s biennial Housing Forum provides professional development opportunities
for people working in the housing field. Attendees participate in focused
educational sessions and hear from nationally recognized speakers. The 2017
program of events included 35 educational sessions, four keynote presentations, a
walking tour of a nearby affordable housing development, and a popular
networking event. The conference ran May 11­12 and drew more than 650

About PHFA
The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency works to provide affordable
home ownership and rental housing options for older adults, low­ and moderate income families, and people with special housing needs. Through its carefully
managed mortgage programs and investments in multifamily housing
developments, PHFA also promotes economic development across the state. Since
its creation by the legislature in 1972, it has generated more than $13.1 billion of
funding for nearly 167,400 single­ family home mortgage loans, helped fund the
construction of 132,531 rental units, and saved the homes of more than 48,800
families from foreclosure. PHFA programs and operations are funded primarily by
the sale of securities and from fees paid by program users, not by public tax
dollars. The agency is governed by a 14­member board.

Scott Elliott
717­649­6522 (cell)

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/newsreleases/four­housing­leaders­honored­during­phfas­housing­forum­300457017.html

©2017 PR Newswire. All Rights Reserved.


Food Buying Club facilitates better access to fresh fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices

May 11, 2017

The Produce News | Article by Christina DiMartino | Click here to view source



A Philadelphia non-profit is helping to feed the souls as well as improve the nutrition of area residents.

Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha, commonly referred to as APM, was founded as a Latino community-based health, human services, community and economic development nonprofit organization serving the Philadelphia area. Its mission is to help families achieve their greatest potential.young-volunteer-jamar-checks-orders A young volunteer checks orders.

Among its lengthy list of services, the organization operates the Food Buying Club, which enables members to purchase fresh produce at affordable prices. Although they’re called members, there is no membership fee, and everyone in the community is invited to participate.

The produce distributed by APM on behalf of its members is purchased from the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market.

Angel Rodriguez, vice president of economic development for APM, explained to The Produce News how the organization got its start.

“Before the creation of APM, basic social services were largely unavailable to Philadelphia’s Latino residents, which was the case in most major cities that had an influx of people from Hispanic countries,” said Rodriguez. “In 1970 a group of Puerto Rican social activists sought to energize the community and help bring to it a fair share of resources. The success of APM is the result of their efforts.”

After more than 44 years, the organization has grown from a staff of five working out of a storefront to offering a broad network of social services offered at sites throughout Philadelphia. Today, APM employs close to 300 staff members, as well as having many volunteers. It affects thousands of people annually through direct service and outreach.

“APM services are grouped into three program areas: Behavioral Health Services; Supportive, Human and Education Services; and Community and Economic Development,” Rodriguez said. “APM does not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, race, sex, sexual preference, national origin or ability to pay. It offers community residents a full spectrum of bilingual and culturally sensitive behavioral health services, supportive and human services that cover a very wide spectrum.”

Bridget Palombo is the director for community economic development, and Food Buying Club coordinator for APM. She explained how the club functions.

“The Food Buying Club is a way to help organize the purchase of food for members,” she said. “We had a need for higher quality produce, but at wholesale prices. With the help of several of the companies located on the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market, we organized a system where we place bulk orders and buy at wholesale prices.”

Copies of APM’s order sheets, with the order date, are shared with the community by volunteer distributors. They are collected and compiled into a large bulk order every two weeks. The order is sent to its suppliers at PWPM, picked up on a Tuesday morning and taken to APM’s hub site at Paseo Verde Community Room.

That day, staff and volunteers, some of which are students at Temple University and some from the Department of Labor Job Corps, help to sort and pack the bulk produce into individual orders, which are then distributed to seven satellite-spoke sites throughout Philadelphia.

“The members pay us in cash, and that cash is used to pay the suppliers at the PWPM,” Palombo pointed out. “This is a win-win for everyone. The members save from 60 to 75 percent on the cost of the freshest high quality produce. In turn, the merchants at PWPM receive cash which helps them with cash flow in their operations.”

Some of the merchants at the PWPM worked closely with APM to develop a system that works efficiently for everyone involved.

Today approximately 700 families are on the food buying club list, and about 100 of them place orders at any given time.

When the club first formed, members asked for a lot of fruit items because of the savings, but as it evolved they also started requesting commodity items like onions, potatoes, carrots and apples. They also request ethnic items. Today the orders combine a mix of nearly everything.

The companies at the PWPM are very generous and helpful to us,” stressed Palombo. “They taught us how to navigate the market in order to make produce accessible to our members. They explained how pricing sheets work, weight versus volume, and what items sell and pack best. We are very grateful. They helped to make the Food Buying Club the great success it is today.”


APM Sugarcane Festival 2016

June 20, 2016

A photo display of the 2016 APM Sugarcane Festival.

Photos by Simon Bolivar and music by Franco Olivo Y Alto Voltaje.



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