Food Access Collaborative

This the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Kevin Galvez, COL ’18

galvez1This summer, I had the fortune of working on projects that mattered to me. Summer internships can really vary, but I truly felt invested in mine. I was able to directly talk to members in the community about issues that needed addressing, and I contributed to data that could have a future positive impact within Philadelphia.

I worked at the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity in Philadelphia, specifically with the Food Access Collaborative, a network of emergency food providers, health organizations and city government that aim to eliminate food insecurity.


I helped manage a research project related to identifying the demographics of emergency meal guests as well as finding out their needs. I led a group of 9 other interns to conduct surveys of meal guests at both outdoor and indoor meal sites. The surveys covered questions about demographics, services one might want at a meal site, how often do you miss meals, etc. Our focus was on interviewing guests at outdoor meal sites, as there is no other project in Philadelphia that works on collecting this information. For our team, that meant finding out where these meals were occurring, and much of it was word of mouth. We would walk along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, as we knew about a concentration of meal sites there and sometimes, we turned up without data. There were days where the heat wave seemed too much, and sometimes the meal provider would not show up on time. These were difficult days but insignificant in comparison to the obstacles faced by the guests that we interviewed. By conducting the survey, we were able to give voice to the issues and needs that these guests had as well as give them a way to directly impact data that circulates within city government.


That alone made for a fantastic and well spent summer. However, there was another aspect of my internship: volunteering at food pantries.  I volunteered at two different sites during my summer, and I was able to help address language barriers. I’m grateful to be able to speak/write Spanish fluently, as it let me translate much needed documents and information that were of use to Latino communities in North Philadelphia. I continued to learn about the importance of details like these, details that existed to make someone else’s life more comfortable. I walked away knowing that this is the kind of work that I want to continue to do in the future. What else could you ask for from a summer?

Author: Student Perspective

Views and opinions from current Penn students.