In the realm of charitable events and community support, sponsors can be pivotal in ensuring the success and impact of an initiative. Such is the case for PHL24 this year, thanks to the generosity of Brown’s ShopRite assuming the role of title sponsor. Brown’s isn’t just a financial supporter; their partnership has been a driving force behind Legacy of Hope’s success in reducing food insecurity in Philadelphia’s oncology population.
These days Legacy of Hope’s Emergency Patient Support Network gets referrals to bring fresh, healthy food to approximately 20 families a week. So it’s hard to believe that four years back they struggled to get groceries to only four families a week. But that was the case. “We’d picked the wrong partners.” says Legacy President, Mike Rowe. “The outcomes in the beginning were so bad that the Emergency Patient Support Network was almost dead before it even started; and then I met with Paul Brauer, President and Chief Operations Officer of Brown’s ShopRite (super stores). I explained how the other vendor couldn’t seem to get it right and Paul told me Brown’s could handle it. The rest is history.”
Brown’s is a part of Wakefern Food Corporation, the largest co-op in the country, which has 51 different member groups, of which Brown’s is one member group. Member groups own anywhere from one to thirty stores. Brown’s has twelve—ten ShopRites and two Fresh Grocers. Most importantly, six of Brown’s ShopRites are in Philly, in areas that would be food deserts without their presence.
Brauer reflects on his initial meeting with Rowe. “Our mission is to bring joy to the lives of the people we serve. We’re in the grocery business, but we have more purpose. We provide employment for around 2300 Philadelphians. Our Philly stores are generally located in tougher, lower income areas where people have needs besides just access to fresh food. But beyond providing access to fresh food, we learned in our communities that there’s a lot of other issues. The bells went off when I met Mike and learned what he was doing with Legacy of Hope and how their work ties directly into our mission. We’re certainly equipped to handle Legacy of Hope’s needs. We have a great team that shops these orders every day. Our team is so excellent that they get it done without me having to worry about it. I only get involved when once in a blue moon there’s some kind of issue or concern. For example, the supply chain issues that made it impossible to get certain products during COVID. A bigger challenge was when our Parkside and Fox Street stores sustained heavy damage during the BLM protests in the summer of 2020.” Brauer recalls “We couldn’t get back in for a couple days, but when we did, I was the first one in. I walked in and there’s a ton of people in the store. And I’m thinking ‘maybe this isn’t over yet.’ It turns out that the people inside were our neighbors and customers; they were sweeping and cleaning up. It was emotional, because these are the people that we’re here for. Naysayers asked ‘Why would you ever redo this and open again here? It’s too difficult and it’s too tough.’ Our reply is simple, these are the people we serve and we stand by them.” With all hands on deck, Brown’s employees and their neighbors not only helped get the Parkside store back up and running in only seven days. Even more impressive, Brown’s team got the deliveries out to Legacy’s patients despite the chaos created by the upheaval.
“That’s what’s cool about the neighborhood. It’s important that we’re connected to that two mile circle around us, that we understand the needs of the neighbors.” says Brauer.
Since that initial meeting between Brauer and Rowe, Brown’s ShopRite has been the clutch player in helping to get a staggering amount of healthy, fresh food to cancer patients in Philly: enough food for nearly 400,000 meals provided to 2380 cancer patients (5918 people total, if you count their families).
There are lots of moving parts to the operation which has become a well-oiled machine. It started with Melissa Denton, an oncology nutritionist at Jefferson Hospital, who several years ago developed a grocery list specifically for cancer patients. This standard order, with occasional exceptions dependent on circumstances, goes to Brown’s Shop-From-Home team who gathers fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs and dry goods, and prepares the grocery bags for pickup by volunteers and the Philadelphia Police (officers make upwards of 90% of the grocery deliveries). Chief Inspector Altovise Love-Craighead was instrumental in getting the Emergency Patient Support Network off the ground. Love-Craighead shared Legacy’s vision for creating a new city-wide system of providing food to families in need across the city. Deliveries have recently expanded to Camden, where Brown’s plays the same critical role.
Brauer shares that “Brown’s is different because of its willingness to operate in food deserts. We’re a major exception to that rule.” Brauer explains “We want our customers to walk into any of our stores and not be able to tell if they’re in King of Prussia, West Philly or North Philly. People deserve that kind of experience. But a lot of the supermarket companies absolutely won’t do it. And [when they don’t] you end up with food deserts, or just lousy stores–dirty, high-price corner stores with no fresh food.”
“Legacy of Hope’s mission to help people that are in a really vulnerable spot just makes all the sense in the world. It’s a timely idea and a great program that brings to light that, even though we’re doing a great deal of good, there’s much more to be done. Legacy does great work helping cancer patients, but it really makes you think about all these other folks that can’t just jump in a car and get somewhere and get food.”
In an era marked by rapid change and uncertainty, the power of community partnerships stands as a beacon of hope and resilience. The partnership between Legacy of Hope and Brown’s ShopRite Super Stores exemplifies how collaboration can improve the quality of life for some of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable residents, food insecure cancer patients. It is a testament to the incredible impact that can be achieved when organizations unite for a common purpose.
In an era where corporate social responsibility is more important than ever, Brown’s ShopRite stands out as a beacon of generosity. Their role as the title sponsor for PHL24 is a testament to their unwavering commitment to creating positive change in Philadelphia; and it shows that when a business chooses to be a force for good, the possibilities for transformation are endless.
The importance of Brown’s partnership with Legacy of Hope in this process cannot be overstated. Brown’s title sponsorship of PHL24 is far more than just financial; it’s a symbol of shared values, and an understanding that being a responsible corporate citizen goes beyond business transactions and creates meaningful connections which make a tangible difference in our communities. This is a value system that resonates with the ethos and mission of PHL24 and Legacy of Hope, which is grateful for the generosity of Brown’s ShopRite team and all that they do.
Join the partnership to sustain this important work by making a donation. You can also witness our amazing community by coming out to cheer on our PHL24 athletes as they climb the “Rocky” steps for 24 hours straight this weekend—9am Saturday, September 9th til 9am Sunday, September 19th.