DocumentariesPeople's Movements

Unity & Survival: Fighting Hunger on the Streets of Philadelphia

The Unity and Survival Program of the Philadelphia Liberation Center provided essential food support to a struggling population as the pandemic wreaked havoc. Their success demonstrates that the problem of hunger stalking the United States could be solved if there was sufficient political will to do so.

According to the United Nations, the world produces enough food to feed 10 billion people. Yet this year, even in the United States, the world’s richest country, 1 in 3 American families with kids went hungry. Even before the pandemic, in 2019, official statistics from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) detailed that 35 million people went hungry–10 million of them children.

The COVID-19 pandemic supercharged the situation, exposing even those who felt “secure” to the possibility of going without eating. In a society where food is not a human right, but a good to be purchased, how were people supposed to eat if they couldn’t work? The short answer: they didn’t. Receiving almost no help from the federal government, working people in the United States were laid off by the millions. Overnight, people suddenly found themselves wondering where their next meal would come from. Families were forced to choose between buying life saving medications and buying enough food to feed their families.

BreakThrough takes an extensive look at the Unity and Survival Program, detailing just how a group of socialist-led volunteers came together to start feeding hundreds of working-class families in Philadelphia as the Covid-19 pandemic raged around them.

Directed, written, produced, edited & shot by William Whiteman

Music by John Prysner

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about the author

William Whiteman

William Whiteman is an English journalist and filmmaker, now based in New York. Before joining BreakThrough as Creative Director, Will worked as a war zone reporter and a trade unionist. His dispatches from the Libyan front lines against Islamic State won the 2017 New York Festivals gold award for Special Reporting. His documentary on the Grenfell tower fire, “Failed by the State” won the award for Best Documentary at The Portobello Film Festival in London 2019.

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