University City Hospitality Coalition

1984-2014 - 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) 527-1547



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

• To provide direct support services for poor and homeless people •
• To encourage empowerment and leadership among guests •
• To facilitate referrals for guests to other agencies when appropriate •
• To foster working partnerships between volunteers and guests to create an environment of mutual understanding •


Volunteers needed Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in the evening. to help prepare and serve meals. See Meal Schedule for more details.

To volunteer for Sunday please contact Kenny Ginsburg, kengi@sas.upenn.edu

For questions regarding group volunteering (groups under 4 people only) or sponsoring a meal, contact our meal coordinator at ladraud@verizon.net.

If you would like to be on the mailing list, please call us at 610-527-1547.


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 making sandwiches to be passed out on a Saturday or making a night's meal of 12 casseroles or splitting into groups of 3 (or 4) and bringing fruit to a meal.

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. If you decide to make sandwiches, we can supply the snacks and sodas. Lunch meat is expensive and may be beyond your budget. If you would rather make nonmeat sandwiches, they can be distributed as "something extra" along with the meat sandwiches. We store the sandwiches in two large plastic garbage bags.

For casseroles, you will need to use standard tins and lids ("half-size deep steam table" 12" x 9" x 2 1/2", not counting lip) and should follow one of the recipes on the UCHC website (note the absence of pork products, for Jewish and Muslim guests). (Tins are available from UCHC, with a week's notice.) Please label all casseroles with date and contents.

Sandwiches and casseroles should be delivered to St Mary's Church between 10 and 4 weekdays (call beforehand to confirm that the office is open: 215-386-3916). We use casseroles on average twice a week and casseroles have a storage life of three weeks, so please let UCHC know when you are planning to make your casseroles.

Your casseroles will be a great help--UCHC prepares meals 250 nights a year, 80% of those 25,000 dinners are made by one person.

Recently we have occasionally added fruit to our dinner menu 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 (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.

For UCHC recipes, see this page.


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.)
  • Volunteers 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.

    * During the summer months, bag lunches are distributed at St. Mary's in place of the usual Sunday evening meal at Hillel.
    Sunday meals will not be served after the beginning of May.

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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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    2014 UCHC Board of Directors

  • Beverly Cowart, President 2014-2016 - cowart@monell.org
  • Virginia Wayland, Vice President 2014-2016
  • Gwendolyn Thamm, Treasurer 2014-2016
  • Richard Hamilton, Secretary, 2014-2016 - rhamilto@brynmawr.edu
  • Lee Ann Draud, Meal Coordinator, 2013-2015 - ladraud@verizon.net
  • The Rev. Mariclair Partee Carlson, St. Mary's Episcopal Church Representative
  • Allison Kulesher, Villanova Representative
  • Frank Odong, Client Services Representative
  • Community Liaisons

  • Christy Marcaccio, Medical Clinic Coordinator
  • Shari Golkow, Lauren Henderson, and Mike McDonald, Legal Clinic Coordinators
  • Sara Ahmed, Parinaz Mazar-Atabaki, Dental Clinic Coordinators
  • Anne Lutun, Penn Graduate Representative
  • Kenny Ginsburg, Hillel Coordinator
  • For information about board meeting dates and times,
    send email to rhamilto@brynmawr.edu.

    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 dfelton@hungercoalition.org; (b) First African Presbyterian Church Food Cupboard, 4159 W. Girard Ave: Charles Felton, 267-595-5080 or 215-477-3100 (ask for Charles or Geri).

    For non-perishable food only: (a) St. Barnabas Mission, 6006 West Girard Ave. : Kitchen Coordinator, 215-528-5147; and (b) 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 everyone. To operate, donations were informally solicited and volunteers recruited from churches, colleges, and neighborhood organizations. The meal program expanded to include more evening meals and sandwiches at lunchtime. In 1986 the group obtained an office in the Christian Association. Incorporated in 1987, UCHC is a federally recognized nonprofit organization with 501(c)(3) status.

    UCHC's mission has always been to be more than a soup kitchen. It is an organization designed to encourage leadership among its guests. The structure of the organization is democratic. All persons who attend meals are considered members of UCHC and have a right to participate in the decision-making process for the entire group. Officers of UCHC are elected by a majority of the membership, and general membership meetings are held twice a year. UCHC's bylaws specify that the Board of Directors should reflect UCHC's constituency: homeless and impoverished persons, members of the community, students, representatives of the institutions that provide space for meals, and members of the local business community. The Board of Directors meets once a month during the academic year.

    Until 1989, UCHC was staffed entirely by volunteers, but in that year the first salaried executive director was hired to pursue the possibility of opening a "survival center" in West Philadelphia, where homeless people could receive mail and telephone calls, take showers, meet social service workers, or just relax. The University had promised UCHC the use of an empty lot at 42nd and Chestnut for $1.00 per year rent, and a donor had promised several trailers that could be adapted for various uses. Negotiations for setting up such a center seemed very promising, but the cost of insurance stalled progress on the plans. UCHC no longer has an executive director and again is an all-volunteer organization.

    At present, the meal program provides a hot meal Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday through Friday evenings and sandwiches at noon on Saturday. A medical clinic, legal clinic, and dental clinic are available at the Wednesday meal site. A resume preparation service is available when needed. An outreach social worker from Horizon House comes every evening to the meal sites to place clients in available shelter spaces and to inform them about alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs, mental health programs, job training programs, and programs for special interest groups such as veterans. UCHC's mailbox can be used by homeless persons as a mailing address and as an address for voting purposes. Because UCHC is a small, all-volunteer organization, it tries to establish working relationships with other agencies and programs that provide services for poor and homeless people to better achieve its mission.

    UCHC receives no city, state, or federal money to support its programs. Primary funding sources are donations from individuals, donations and grants from religious institutions, and the United Way Donor Option program. For almost a decade UCHC has been the beneficiary of a "Rock for the Homeless" event by the Gamma chapter of Alpha Epsilon Phi and a fund-raiser dinner and auction by a Wharton management class at Penn. Primary sources of food for the meal program are the Greater Philadelphia Food Bank, University of Pennsylvania Dining Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture Surplus Food Program, SHARE, Nutritional Development Services, and Philabundance.

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    last update: 22 February 2014