Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been awarded a $60,000 grant from the Connelly Foundation benefiting Martha’s Choice Marketplace and Community Farm located in Norristown.

The grant will be used for general operating support and key projects in calendar years 2024 and 2025.

The funds will help Martha’s respond to what has been the highest sustained levels of community food need ever seen at the pantry: a 100% increase since the pandemic. The funds will also impact production and safety on Martha’s Community Farm, which is located on the grounds of the former Saint Gabriel’s Hall in Audubon.

Through the Martha’s Community Farm initiative, thousands of pounds of fresh produce are grown each year, with the specific goal of providing pantry guests with culturally appropriate items that are not widely available at regional food banks such as tomatillos, sweet potatoes, peppers, and cilantro.

This year, 25 different crops and 20,000 pounds of food were produced and distributed. Produce grown at Martha’s Community Farm further supplements households benefiting from Martha’s Choice.

For the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2023, Martha’s Choice completed nearly 19,500 household food pantry distributions to over 3,850 families made up of 16,000 individuals, over 7,000 of which are children. Nearly 2.3 million pounds of food, personal care, and household items were distributed during that period alone.

Martha’s Choice also provides a holistic approach to hunger prevention by offering nutritional education and personal empowerment opportunities uplifting each client’s dignity.