University City Hospitality Coalition

1984-2017 - Over thirty years of service to the homeless and hungry in University City

University City Hospitality Coalition - PMB 410, 3720 Spruce Street - Philadelphia, PA 19104 - 610-639-4395

New Initiative: UCHC Toiletries Distribution
Meals Schedule Services Board Gifts of Food History

The University City Hospitality Coalition is funded solely by donations. Please donate today via the PayPal link below. If you wish to donate by check, please make your check out to UCHC and send it to 275 S. Bryn Mawr Ave. F-33, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010. Our United Way Donor Option Number is 09178. Thank you!

Our Mission

• Providing hot meals five nights a week and sandwiches at noon on Saturdays •
• Encouraging respect and mutual cooperation among its guests and volunteers •
• Involving guests in significant roles such as maintaining order, helping with clean-up, and providing community news and information about support services and opportunities available to the UCHC community •
• Offering additional services, including medical, legal, and dental clinics, which are available at the Wednesday meal site •
• Referring guests to shelter spaces, alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs, mental health programs, job training programs, and programs for special interest groups such as veterans through an outreach social worker from Horizon House •
• Enabling guests to receive mail and exercise their right to vote by making UCHC’s mailbox available to anyone who needs a mailing address •
• Establishing working relationships with other agencies and programs that provide services for poor and homeless people to better achieve its mission •

For questions regarding group volunteering (groups under 4 people only) or sponsoring a meal, call 610-639-5329.

Undergraduates interested in helping out at the UCHC Medical Clinic Wednesday nights should consult this page.

If you are interested in volunteering at the Hillel Soup Kitchen, please email to sign up for a shift.

If you would like to be on the mailing list of summer volunteers, please email us at

If you have a group that wants to help UCHC but realize that you are too many to assist at a meal
(i.e., more than three), please consider (a) making sandwiches to be passed out on a Saturday or (b) making decorated bags of sweets or (c) splitting into groups of 3 (or 4) and bringing fruit to a meal.
(a) We make approximately 110 meat sandwiches (usually a turkey product of some kind because
some people don't eat pork for health or religious reasons). In addition, we add a small snack, such as peanut butter or cheese crackers, to the baggie and hand out a soda to each guest. We store the sandwiches in two large plastic garbage bags. Sandwiches should be delivered to the kitchen at St Mary's Church Thursday evening between 4:30 and 7:00 or Thursday or Friday between 10 and 2 at the Church office.
(b) Our guests find great pleasure in individually decorated (white) paper bags containing candy, cookies, nuts and other treats. We like to have at least 80 to ensure that every guest gets one. These can be brought to any meal and handed out by two or three of you as an extra treat or you can substitute your cookies (unbagged) or flat cakes (already cut) for our ordinary evening’s dessert, provided they arrive at the meal site by 5:30. Or they can be dropped off at St Mary's during office hours or delivered to a mutually convenient spot. In any case, be sure to check with us the day before (call 610-639-4395).
(c) Recently we have added fruit to our dinner menu about once a week to the delight of our guests, and we encourage groups of 3 (or 4) to come to any meal with enough fruit for 80 folk (for example: 2 medium watermelons or a watermelon plus 4-5 cantaloupes). You can then cut up the fruit and pass it out after the guests have been served the main meal. Whole bananas are also welcome as long as they aren't completely green, and oranges and clementines are good choices, too. (Apples and other hard fruits are not as helpful because some of our guests have tooth and gum problems.) Please let us know a day in advance if you plan to do this.


The University City Hospitality Coalition is excited to begin planning a new service initiative for our guests: donations of packages of underclothes and toiletries, to be distributed periodically during our evening meals. We will gladly and gratefully receive the supplies detailed below and share them once we have enough to provide for the typical number of guests (40 to 60) in an evening. We will begin with the distribution of toiletries and provide details on clothing donations in the near future.

At present we anticipate including the following fundamental supplies in each donation package. The costs are approximate and are intended simply to assist in planning.

Volunteers are welcome to donate these supplies individually or in bulk; they will then be assembled into packages once we have sufficient amounts of each item. We will also happily accept packages assembled by volunteers, in which case we request that each package consist of a one-gallon ziploc bag containing each of the supplies above — shampoo, hand lotion, and soap.

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Meal Schedule

  • Sunday - Hillel Foundation - 215 South 39th Street (6:00 p.m.)
  • Monday - St. Agatha-St. James - 38th & Chestnut Streets (6:00 p.m.)
  • Wednesday - St. Agatha-St. James - 38th & Chestnut Streets (6:00 p.m.)
  • Thursday - St. Mary's Church - 3916 Locust Walk (6:00 p.m.)
  • Friday - Woodland Presbyterian Church - 42nd and Pine Streets (6:00 p.m.)
  • Saturday - Sandwiches - 3916 Locust Walk (12:00 p.m.)
  • During school breaks (especially summer) volunteers are needed Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for the evening meal.

    For photographs of the entrance areas of these mealsites, please see this page.

    For the UCHC Code of Conduct, please click here.

    * The Hillel Sunday evening meal will not be offered on Jewish holidays and College breaks. The meal is scheduled for October 30; November 6, 13, 20; December 4, 11; January 15, 22, 29; February 5, 12, 19, 26; March 19, 26; April 2.


    Please note: There are other meal sites in Philadelphia, and a list of those of which we are aware may be found here.


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    UCHC Services

    • Hot meals five nights a week and sandwiches on Saturday for poor and homeless persons in West Philadelphia

    • A medical clinic staffed by doctors and medical students from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine is provided at the Wednesday meal.

    • A dental clinic staffed by dental students and dentists from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dentistry is also provided at the Wednesday meal.

    • A legal clinic staffed by law students from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law is also provided at the Wednesday meal.

    • A mailing address for homeless persons who need a permanent address to vote and to receive welfare checks, medical cards, and other mail

    • Referral services for shelter, housing, food, and clothing

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    2017 UCHC Board of Directors

  • Beverly Cowart, President 2016-18 -
  • Virginia Wayland, Vice President for Charitable Giving 2016-18
  • Bob Weber, Vice President for Volunteer Opportunities 2016-18
  • Gwendolyn Thamm, Treasurer 2016-18
  • Richard Hamilton, Secretary 2016-18 -
  • Julia Snyder, City Church Representative
  • The Rev. Mariclair Partee Carlson, St. Mary's Episcopal Church Representative
  • Allison Kulesher, Villanova Representative
  • Sarah Hill, Member at Large
  • Community Liaisons

  • Mika Schwartz: Medical Clinic Coordinator
  • Esther Clovis: Legal Clinic Coordinator
  • Anthony Albert, Michael Hayes, Catherine Lee: Dental Clinic Coordinators
  • Tess Kerins: Hillel Coordinator
  • Timothy Faver: St. Agatha Representative
  • For information about board meeting dates and times,
    send email to

    Clinic activities:

    UCHC Clinic Services
    (Wednesdays Saint Agatha/Saint James Church 38th and Chestnut)

    Medical Clinic (5:30-7:00)

  • Blood pressure and blood glucose readings
  • HIV confidential testing (first and third Wednesdays)
  • PPD reading (by physician 6:30; bring paperwork)
  • Vitamins for adults & children
  • Physician visit (after history and physical by med student)
  • Some Prescriptions filled (after physician visit)
  • Emergency referral and delivery to ER
  • Other follow-up referrals (e.g. podiatry, dental work, hypertension)
  • Dermatology residents available last week of month
  • Connections to social services
  • Health insurance
  • Food stamps
  • Doctor’s appointments
  • Resources for quitting smoking, drinking and/or drug use
  • Dental Clinic (6:00-7:00)

  • Faculty conduct oral hygiene evaluations and oral cancer screenings
  • Referrals to dental schools
  • Free toothbrush, toothpaste and floss
  • Collaboration with medical clinic to treat infections and abscesses
  • Studying the impact of community outreach on oral health outcomes
  • Legal Clinic (6:00-7:00)

  • Birth certificates
  • Rent rebates
  • Taxes
  • LIHEAP (energy payment assistance)
  • Social Security Insurance
  • Other civil legal needs
  • (For court cases go to Community Legal Services (CLS), 1424 Chestnut Street. 215-981-3700.)

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    Gifts of Food

    UCHC is frequently asked if it can use fresh and non-perishable food items. Since we prepare meals for upwards of 100 guests at a sitting, we cannot use food packaged in domestic sizes. However, we are happy to refer you to food cupboard sites that serve University City and West Philadelphia. (UCHC is not responsible for the accuracy of this information, but we do try to keep it current so please let us know if it is out of date.)

    For any food: (a) Fresh Start: Derek Felton, 215-769-0659 ext. 106 or; (b) First African Presbyterian Church Food Cupboard, 4159 W. Girard Ave: Nate Maybin 215-254-4681 or 215-477-3100 (ask for Nate or Geri).

    For non-perishable food only: (a) St. Barnabas Mission, 6006 West Girard Ave. : Kitchen Coordinator, 215-528-5147; (b) Calvin Presbyterian Church, 5931 Master Street, 215-877-7711; and (c) The Church of the Holy Apostles and the Mediator, 51st and Spruce Streets: 215-472-3000, 10 AM - 2 PM weekdays (distribution every other Thursday).

    Brief History of the University City Hospitality Coalition

    In October 1984 on a very cold night, Stanley Biddle, a homeless man who was a familiar figure on the University of Pennsylvania campus, froze to death after falling asleep near 38th Street. In response, a small group of students, clergy, and local residents came together to confront the bleak and tragic realities of homelessness in their own community. This group formed the University City Hospitality Coalition (UCHC).

    The first action of the group was to offer one "meal of hospitality" per week that would be open to anyone and everyone who came through their doors. To operate, the founders of UCHC informally solicited donations and recruited helping hands from churches, colleges, and neighborhood organizations. In time, UCHC grew to offer additional evening meals and lunchtime sandwiches on Saturdays, as well as a variety of other support services. Incorporated in 1987, today UCHC is a federally recognized nonprofit organization with 501(c)(3) status.

    UCHC receives no city, state, or federal money to support its programs. Primary funding sources are donations from individuals and religious institutions, and the United Way Donor Option program.

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    last update: 24 March 2017