PHILADELPHIA HAS A FOOD ECONOMY
New City Report Shows What It Looks Like & How to Grow It
by ecoWURD Staff
As ecoWURD continues examining food insecurity in Philadelphia, there are some exciting new developments in the city showing firm steps towards needed food sovereignty. In November, just days before Thanksgiving 2019, the Mayor’s office, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, the Economy League and other partners announced the first-ever report on Philadelphia’s Food Economy. The full report, entitled “Good Eats: The Greater Philadelphia Food Economy, and Good Food’s Potential to Drive Growth, Improve Health, and Expand Opportunity” is found on the Economy League’s website here.
The Good Eats report examines not only the way in which the economy of food in Philadelphia functions, but also how much food plays an integral role in the health of Philadelphians. It details the entire food ecosystem in Philadelphia from food industry jobs to policy solutions to urban farming. “In Greater Philadelphia, food-based businesses fuel commercial activity and create jobs for thousands of individuals,” writes the Economy League’s Mohona Siddique. “Businesses and people that participate along the food supply chain comprise an economy unto themselves, a ‘food economy’ that spans small businesses to multinational corporations, corner stores to global shippers. The food economy supports 331,000 jobs across 25,000 firms in the 11 counties that constitute Philadelphia’s Metropolitan Statistical Area.”
Here’s a snapshot of what that economy looks like …
- 12 percent of all jobs in the city are food-related
- 18 percent of all firms/businesses in the city are also food-related.
- The annual rate of food-related job growth in Philadelphia is 4.2 percent – a rate that’s higher, on average, than overall job growth.
Yet, Philly still struggles with a food insecurity of more than 22 percent, higher than the national average.
Dr. Cheryl Bettigole is the Director of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention Division and she Oversees the GetHealthy Philly initiative in the agency. Bettigole, along with Mayor Kenney and others, talked about this exciting opportunity to understand how food plays a crucial role in Philadelphia’s economy and what we can do to improve and grow our food economy.
She also joined Charles Ellison, host and Chief Editor of the ecoWURD Food Lab (made possible by Resolve Philadelphia’s Broke in Philly project) to discuss what this report means for the city.
“There are 79,000 food-related jobs in Philadelphia, that’s 12 percent of jobs in the city,” Bettigole told Ellison. “However, the vast majority of those jobs are currently low-wage jobs. So, they’re in retail, they’re in hospitality; those are workers who are making $10-$11 an hour. The plus is those are relatively easy entry jobs. So, if you haven’t worked before or if you’re coming from incarceration and you need to get a job that’s a place where it’s easier. That’s the good part.
“The bad part is those low wages, which really aren’t family-sustaining wages. So, then we look at the food economy we see these other pieces of it.”
To learn more about what other pieces make up Philadelphia’s food economy listen here