I do this because I just love helping people.
-Ella Van Buren
Ella Van Buren knows just how important community food pantries can be to those in need. The Food and Wellness Network (FAWN) is a community based food pantry in the Frankford area of Philadelphia, one of the most undeserved communities in the country. Ella first went to FAWN as a client and after receiving food services from the pantry, she insisted on volunteering.
“Everybody has a time of need, I had my time,” said Ella. “I wanted to give back to people, I like helping people and this was my time to give back.”
For the past four years, Ella has been volunteering at FAWN five days a week. The pantry distributes over 3,300 pounds of food every week and offers nutrition education, public benefit enrollment, and family empowerment services.
Ella volunteers in whatever capacity she is needed, whether unloading delivery trucks, sorting food donations, or greeting clients as they shop the shelves. She has also worked with cooking instructors to develop recipes for FAWN clients that are nutritionally and culturally appropriate. Ella even began cooking recipes for clients to try as they sat in the waiting room, educating her peers on healthy eating and cooking techniques.
“It’s exciting! You get to meet and learn about so many different people,” said Ella. “You never know who will walk through the door. I do it because I just love helping people.”
Cabot found Ella through Uplift Solutions and Brown’s Super Stores. Both groups work to make access to healthy food and health programs more accessible in underserved communities. In her spare time, Ella enjoys keeping up with her nine children and nine grandchildren. She also loves to read, most recently about food safety, knowledge she then brings to clients at FAWN. Ella will be joined on the cruise by her fiancé David Ruffin.