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Toyota making a big haul to feed those in need

Philabundance hosts food drive in cooperation with Toyota feeding local families
Philabundance hosts food drive in cooperation with Toyota feeding local families 02:50

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- If you saw a convoy of nearly 85 pickup trucks heading down a Philly street today, this is why.

Local Toyota dealers are supporting local food bank Philabundance, hauling tons of food on pallets that will be on the back of Toyota Tundra trucks.

Philabundance is purchasing the food through donations received in 2021 and 2022 from Toyota and the Tri-State Dealers Association. That group represents 25 dealerships in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

The food bank is getting over 325 tons of food, and the trucks will haul just a portion of it.

"These are our neighbors, and we live and work and do our business in these communities and I think it's incumbent on us to do what we can, to help the people who basically support us throughout the year," said Paul Muller, president of the Toyota Tri-State Dealers Association.

"There's a lot of things in the United States that you should be, and hungry is not one of them," Muller said. "So this is absolutely something we feel very, very strongly about."  

The annual event hasn't been held since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And Philabundance's need for food has only grown.

"We used to serve 90,000 people a week which is a lot of people. Now we serve 135,000 a week," said CEO Loree Jones Brown.

Brown said that the number of people struggling to put food on the table in our city is even greater than you might think. "Over the course of a year, there are more than half a million people each night making those tough decisions: Are they going to pay rent or are they going to buy food?"

"Our hope is that our Haul Away Hunger event helps to raise the awareness for how widespread food insecurity is in Greater Philadelphia and the importance behind the incredible hunger-relief work being done by Philabundance in our communities throughout the year," Dom Conicelli, vice president of the Tri-State Toyota Dealers Association and owner of two Toyota dealerships in Pennsylvania, said in a news release.

"200 people out here today that are involved in making this happen," Muller said, noting how cold the weather was. "It's heartwarming to see the effort that these people are putting in for such a worthy cause."

The help comes at a good time for Philabundance, which has seen increased food insecurity during the pandemic.

"We've seen a need increase dramatically in our area as a result of COVID and the economic crisis over the last few months," Brown said.

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