Produced by Nichole Capizzi

Rosa’s Fresh Pizza Pays It Forward

By: Alexa Milano

Although there are government initiatives to mitigate hunger and food insecurity, small businesses are also doing their part to resolve the issue. Rosa’s Fresh Pizza, a small pizza shop located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania gives away about 100 slices of pizza per day. Rosa’s opened in December 2013 and serves slices of pizza for only $1. After one customer had an idea to buy an outstanding slice of pizza for a homeless person who wouldn’t be able to afford it, the idea caught on and now Rosa’s has given away more than 13,000 slices of pizza to the homeless population in Philadelphia.

“A customer came in and offered to pre purchase a slice of pizza for a homeless person because he knew that we served a lot of homeless people because they could afford our food,” Mason Wartman, owner of Rosa’s Fresh Pizza said. “I ran out, got Post-It Notes and put one up as a reminder to myself and to employees that there was a slice outstanding that we could give away if a homeless person came in short.” Since then, Rosa’s has received local and national media attention and attracts customers from all across the country.

Wartman worked for on Wall Street for three years and after seeing the success of the dollar pizza shops throughout Manhattan, he decided to try it out closer to home. According to Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, 1 in 4 people live in poverty in Philadelphia. Wartman is doing his part to change that. “After about a year of this program, with more and more media attention, we’ve been able to give away more than 13,000 slices,” Wartman said. In addition to the free slice of pizza, Coca-Cola has partnered with Rosa’s and agreed to give away a bottle of water with every slice of pizza served to a homeless individual. Wartman is excited about Coca-Cola setting the way for big businesses to do their part to give back.

The homeless individuals who visit Rosa’s enjoy the atmosphere and that they’re treated like a regular paying customer.  The homeless are free to use the program at their own will, using the program however much or however little they need to. “Sometimes I come through for donations and there’s sometimes I come through here to eat when I didn’t have anything, I didn’t have any work or anything,” Ed Durhan, a homeless customer who frequents Rosa’s Fresh Pizza, said. “This place is like a blessing to anybody who finds themselves in a tough situation where you still need nourishment.”

“That’s the real power of the program, that it’s able to be used at the homeless persons’ will. So they can make what they want with it,” Wartman said. “A lot of them come here every day and are able to save up money and they can reinvest that in other areas of their lives so they can get a new set of clothes or a haircut or a shave and a shower, get a job, and then be a functioning member of society again. So that’s what I really like to see from the program.”

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