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How Chef Maria Campbell Launched Philly Art and Food to Help Support Arts in Underserved Areas of Philadelphia

Chef Maria Campbell has always had a big heart for the arts, so last year she created Philly Art and Food Community, an evolving community group of caring art and food lovers dedicated to maintaining arts and culture in underserved areas of Philadelphia. The organization aims to create skill-sharing initiatives to provide opportunities for at-risk Philadelphians to succeed and get inspired by the possibilities of creative expression while demonstrating the power of food. 

 As someone who spent a number of years volunteering for art and food nonprofits around the Philadelphia area, Campbell witnessed countless funding battles that took away energy from mission-driven organizations supporting underserved communities with the limited sources they had.

“After learning last year that creative outlets for youth are diminishing, I immediately wanted to encourage chefs, cooks and art lovers to protect the revered Philly arts culture within our growing community,” says Campbell. “It is in my belief that collaboration and open source ideas are what will change our local communities.  The arts are related to the craft of cooking and I wanted to prove it with impact standing alongside people with the same passion as creatives.”

Philly Art and Food officially launched in 2015 with its first-ever public fundraiser with Cescaphe Event Group  this past July at Vie on N Broad St benefiting Art Sphere, Inc.13 local chefs participated: R2L, The Farm & the Fisherman, Poi Dog Snack Shop, Johnny Brenda's, Jose Pistola's, Well's Fargo Center, Madame Saito, and more.

“Each of them stood by our mission to become a champion for low-income Philly youth to raise money for children to have their own kit of art supplies,” says Campbell. “Kids need a champion to show them how to kindle the power of their own imagination.”

Campbell didn’t stop there -- she’s also developed a program called "Cooks Who Care Cooking Demos,” where local chefs, food writers, and passionate food people teach low-income families how to enjoy the cooking experience together through the power of food.  Recently, Chef Adam Diltz from Johnny Brenda's taught families at the Fishtown Recreation Center how to make chicken soup from whole chicken to inspire ideas just before Thanksgiving.

Up next for Philly Food and Art? They’re launching a blog, featuring vegan chef Lenka Zivkovic, beer enthusiast Daniel Berlin, and baker Julie Kauffman Strong, all of them sharing their passion for art and food through their medium of creative writing. Zivkovic is beginning a new healthy eating walking tour in the spring to show families where affordable, highly nutritious food can be found around the city of Philadelphia. 

They are also currently working on relationships with past sponsors and developing meaningful relationships to engage with the chefs who have participated: its community of food and art lovers are expanding into another initiative later this year called Cooks Who Care, a community of chefs who reinvest in the arts and culture in the city by developing supportive programs, such as hosting a cooking demo or fundraiser. Restaurants can serve as a "Site for the Night," where fundraisers will take place. In addition, they’re working with RAIR Philadelphia, who will advise a new addition for Philly Art and Food’s events, a competition where artists will incorporate waste materials.

Learn more about Maria Campbell and Philly Art and Food at http://www.phillyartandfood.com/

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