The Faces of Face to Face

Andrew Albert (@AndrewJAlbert01)

East Price Street can be an intimidating place. The narrow streets surrounding the two way street concede to strong, bold black gates that surround the St. Vincent’s Church property.

On the northern end of the property, there is a large, rustic looking building that you can tell used to be a beauty in the architecture world. On any given day, you will find men and women outside on the steps, talking with each other, or just stopping to sit for a while. They know those steps are safe. They know they are welcome there.

That Northern end of the property is home to Face to Face, a shelter and food kitchen that serves the Germantown area of Philadelphia. According to their website, “at Face to Face struggling families, individuals and the homeless are welcomed and treated with dignity and respect.  Our goal is to meet basic human needs and reduce suffering; thereby assisting our guests to a better future.”

Face to Face provides many services to anyone in need, and everyone is welcome, regardless of their situation. They have a nurse managed Health Center, a Legal Center, a Social Services Center and Children’s Summer Camps and After School programs. They serve over 2,500 people annually, and have been a fixture in the Germantown area for decades. 

The main aspect of Face to Face is their dining services. They serve meals to those in need every day of the week, with Sunday being their main meal of the week.

According to, the area that surrounds Face to Face is riddled with poverty. 28.3 percent of the people living in the area are below the poverty line, and the medium income per household is just $37,344.

With the outstanding poverty rate in the surrounding area, Face to Face gets a lot of traffic through their dining room, more than any other of their services. In a world where eating healthy will cost you upwards of $500 dollars more a year, there is very little room for people in Germantown to buy their own healthy food, so they come to Face to Face. They have a large back room full of stocked up cans and fruits and veggies, as well as a large dining room that can hold up to 100 people at a time.

According to head chef Altenor Vaval, the kitchen will serve over 900 people meals on a weekly basis, with about 300 of those meals coming in a Sunday meal form. Face to Face does not collect any money for their services, so they rely entirely on donations.

A big portion of their donations come from the Fresh Grocer via the Exploring Nutrition Program at La Salle University. The Exploring Nutrition program aims to improve the way of life via nutrition. They cover the area surrounding La Salle University, in Philadelphia’s Olney section.

“Exploring Nutrition was a provost mandated project,” Tom Wingert, the former head of the program said. “We wanted to figure out what kind of relationship La Salle University and the intellectual capital we have at this university, be it students, be it faculty can have on the local community about nutritional health.”

La Salle and it’s team went out to help places such as Face to Face. Without La Salle and the Fresh Grocer, Face to Face would not have enough food to feed all the people that come in for help.

Face to Face gets deliveries just about once a week from the Fresh Grocer. According to Vaval, they get everything from canned goods to produce to pastries that help feed the Germantown area.

“We get deliveries once a week, typically on Friday afternoons,” Vaval said. “We try to prepare everything on Saturday morning so it is ready for the weekend and still fresh.”

Vaval and any volunteers that are willing to help make the meals in bulk on Saturday and store them away in the freezers located in the kitchen at the shelter. He says that he likes to prepare the ingredients for Sunday’s big meal, which happens in shifts, before hand so the ingredients are fresh as possible for the people who come in for dinner.

Vaval and all the people at Face to Face expressed their gratitude for the Exploring Nutrition program via the Fresh Grocer for everything that they do. Without their help, they say many people would go hungry and be on the streets.

Despite the bold, strong gates protecting the stronghold that is Face to Face, they are very welcoming. The people who look disheveled on the steps are not hungry, thanks to Face to Face and all they do for the Germantown area. Despite struggling to make it by themselves, Face to Face always manages to help those in need, even if it is just a simple meal.




Face to Face slideshow

As a part of the Exploring Nutrition project, La Salle and the Fresh Grocer deliver food at least twice a month to Face to Face, a shelter in the Germantown area. Below are photos of the food stock just after they received an order from the Fresh Grocer. 


Henstenburg stresses healthy choices

Andrew Albert (@AndrewJAlbert01)


Dr. Jule Anne Henstenburg is an expert on nutrition (Photo: La Salle University)

When you walk into the supermarket, you are faced with many choices. From fresh foods to foods loaded with preservatives, supermarkets, such as Fresh Grocer, have it all. Eating healthy is not an easy choice, but it is a choice that starts right at the supermarket according to Dr. Jule Anne Henstenburg. 

In her visit to Professor Beatty’s online journalism class, she outlined the struggles people go through in order to eat healthy. A person making minimum wage and working full time comes home with just about $15,000 a year, which does not leave a lot left for food. With that money, they are forced to make it last, so healthy foods that go out of date quickly are seemingly out of the question, not to mention they are more expensive.  

Aside from the notorious food deserts that exist, not many people are educated about making the right choices when it comes to nutrition. Henstenburg and her nutrition classes are trying to change that one step at a time. They hand out pamphlets at the Fresh Grocer that educate people about healthy choices. The program, started by Wal Mart, aims to get people to make the smart choices in the supermarkets. 

Henstenburg’s theories are all well and good, but when it comes down to it, unhealthy food is less expensive than healthy food. When people do not have enough money to get by, they are not going to spring for fresh fruits and veggies. Until SNAP or Food Stamps covers more money explicitly for healthy foods, there will always he a problem. 

Obesity overhaul

Andrew Albert (@AndrewJAlbert01)

Dr. Edie Goldbacher stopped by the online journalism class to discuss obesity, and what can be done about the disease that impacts America in more ways than we realize. Obesity runs high in this country, and there are plenty of reasons why. Dr. Goldbacher said that a lack of healthy foods is one reason why people are overweight in America. She mentioned that a bottle of sugary hugs costs less than a bottle of water. In fact, according to the Huffington Post, eating healthy will cost you $550 more a year, which is money that some people just do not have. 

Another reason cited by Dr. Goldbacher believes there is an obesity in this country is distracted eating. People will sit down on the couch and watch a movie and eat popcorn or candy and not realize just how much they are eating. According to Harvard, mindful eating is something that needs to be observed in order to limit calories. I know as a guy I have ordered pizza and wings for a football game and not realized just how many calories I am consuming, leading to overeating. 

Goldbacher’s talk was valuable in ways to counteract obesity in this country. She had valid points about food deserts, where it is hard for people in urban areas to get fresh fruits and vegetables, aiding to unhealthy eating. This is currently a problem in the area around La Salle. There are very few places to get fresh fruits and veggies, but plenty of places to get high calorie and fatty foods. The availability of healthy foods would be a large step in Exploring Nutrition. 

New-trition labels

The nutitition labels are changing once again (Photo courtesy of

The nutrition labels are changing once again (Photo courtesy of

Andrew Albert (@AndrewJAlbert01)

Once again, nutrition labels are changing. This time, it is for practical reason rather than just an update to the way things look.

Everyone has been there. Pringles slogan is “once you pop, the fun don’t stop.” This rings true for a lot of different products that we eat and drink. When is the last time you, or anyone you know has drank half a bottle of soda because there are supposed to be two serving sizes in the bottle? The probable answer is never.

According to politico, the food labels are now going to reflect that inability to stop. First Lady Michelle Obama is one of the big proponents of the plan that will make realistic observations as to how many calories people are eating when they pick up a bag of Chex Mix or a 20oz soda from the gas station.

The change comes as a part of the Lets Move! campaign that was started four years ago to help fight childhood obesity. Calories will be displayed more prominently on the labels, and the serving sizes will reflect how much typical Americans eat. The sheer numbers may be enough to help people put down the Doritos before the bag is gone, this time.

Another big change that will be reflected on the labels comes with the content of sugar. Sugar is added to about 75 percent of processed food, and the label will reflect that. It is in the works that the label will say how much natural, and how much added sugar is in each product. The goal is to show people just how bad the things they are putting in their body are for them.

The idea will most likely be effective for America, helping people realize just how many calories they are intaking. I know if I saw the amount of Doritos I ate had 600 calories as opposed to the serving size count of 210, they would be back in the cupboard in a heartbeat.