• Italian Market
      R Kennedy for VISIT PHILADELPHIA


    Advancing Food Innovations that Lift Up Philadelphia




A joint initiative of the Economy League and Billy Penn, the Full City Challenge is a rapid incubator focused on identifying and supporting new collaborations that leverage our region’s robust food economy to address the acute problems of hunger and poverty in the Philadelphia region.  


Philadelphia is home to one of the country’s most dynamic and diverse food scenes. At the same time, one in five Philadelphians don’t have enough to eat — and in contrast with national trends, that number appears to be growing. Philly is also the poorest big city in the country, with nearly half of residents struggling to make ends meet. There’s a lot of great work happening in the city around addressing these linked issues of food and financial insecurity, but it’s clear that there’s more to be done. With this in mind, the Economy League and Billy Penn present the Full City Challenge, a new initiative that looks to YOU for solutions that leverage our region’s robust food economy to address the dual acute problems of hunger and poverty in Philadelphia.


  • HospitalityTogether
Grand Prize Winner: HospitalityTogether


Congratulations to HospitalityTogether for being selected as the winner of Full City Challenge Grand Prize! The HT team will receive $5,000, six months of free coworking space from CIC Philadelphia, and support from the Economy League network to place and implement a pilot of their concept in the coming months. Stay tuned for more details, and learn more about HospitalityTogether on their GoFundMe page.


  • The Rebel Market
People's Choice Award: The Rebel Market


Congrats to the Rebel Market team for raising $12,421 on GoFundMe in just one week and winning the $2,500 Full City Challenge People's Choice Award!  Learn more about the Rebels on the Rebel Market GoFundMe page and the Rebel Ventures website.  




CWC Wellness

Our program gives employers a way to encourage their employees to develop healthier habits, even if they are unable to increase pay or offer benefits. The CWC Wellness Program is designed to promote wellness across the food industry. With the team of Wellness Ambassadors that we have brought together, we will share tips, strategies & social support that make it easy for food industry employees to establish healthy habits, while still working hard to feed others. The Working Wellness section of the program offers a financial incentive for both employees and employers who want to support healthful living, by establishing a list of 100+ local providers who will offer exclusive discounts or special promotions to participating members.




HospitalityTogether is the college alternative where Philadelphians are not asked to choose between working and learning. We celebrate both. Students are placed at top restaurants, where they have a path to advancement in wages and position while gaining soft skills. As they advance at work, they also do so in their education through self-paced, affordable, and flexible digital college courses at Brandman University. All of this comes together with a cohesive support ecosystem. Within a curated schedule, students meet regularly with their Advocate, a mentor who keeps track of progress every single day, and a team of Learning Advisors—personal tutors who help them through school. After a year in HospitalityTogether, students are living free from the injustices of poverty and have a foundation of income, skills, and college credits that they did not have before. They can choose to reroute to a traditional school, continue advancing in the industry, and/or finish their bachelor’s degree with us.


Philly Food Rescue


Good food to good people is our mission. Philly Food Rescue is a comprehensive solution that strives to provide service without burden. Philly Food Rescue addresses the system’s gaps related to logistics, employer support, transportation & recipient access. Philly Food Rescue leverages technology to empower community volunteers to heal their community through the transport of surplus food. Philly Food Rescue establishes a customized donation plan with recurring pickups & detailed donor reports to maximize tax deductions and reduce waste. In addition, Philly Food Rescue will dispatch transport immediately via the Philly Food Rescue app for ad hoc donations. From rescue alert push notification to recipient delivery, the app navigates volunteers through the rescue, in real time. Food Rescue Hero technology enables the Philly Food Rescue team to monitor travel time for safe arrival & assist as needed. Philly Food Rescue’s experienced staff provide safety and program training for donors, volunteers, and recipient organizations.


The Rebel Market


Our idea is the Rebel Market, a youth-powered produce/snack store on 52nd Street. Our primary goal is not profit, but instead providing affordable, nutritious foods to our target audience (kids in Philadelphia). Our exact menu will depend on the infrastructure of our space. At minimum we will sell fresh produce, sliced ‘grab and go’ produce, parfaits, smoothies, Rebel Crumbles, and other healthy snacks, many priced at $1 or less. If we are able to cook food, our crew will design a simple menu featuring healthy, delicious foods we want to eat like tasty salads and stir-frys. When determining what to sell, we will use a framework that considers affordability, nutritiousness, deliciousness, simplicity, seasonality, geography, and mission-alignment. 100% of our products will be healthy deliciousness. Our plan is to hire one full-time staff person to operate the business, with high school students working part-time after school and on the weekends.


Victory V Farms


Victory V Farm uses controlled environment agriculture technology to grow leafy greens & herbs in underutilized buildings. Our goal is to build a network of farms that grow food & create living-wage jobs in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia. The farm will generate revenue by selling what it grows to local eds & meds customers as well as to residents who lack access to, or cannot afford, fresh healthy food. We will grow for direct community benefit & use the food to engage residents in conversations about nutrition & healthy communities.




Between December 3, 2018 and January 24, 2019, we accepted short proposals for initiatives, campaigns, social enterprises, technology platforms and other new solutions that use food, culinary or agricultural-based solutions to address pervasive hunger and its underlying causes for too many of our region’s residents. 


To help shape and refine promising ideas, select participants will gain access to the Economy League’s extensive network of advisors, policymakers, and influencers as well as our deep expertise about the Philadelphia region, its challenges, and its opportunities. The winner received $5,000 to advance a small-scale pilot of their concept, and Billy Penn will provide coverage of the whole process. Here's how it worked:


CALL FOR APPLICATIONS (DEC 3, 2018 – JAN 24, 2019)


We put out a call for proposals for initiatives, campaigns, social enterprises, technology platforms and other concepts that use food, culinary or agricultural-based solutions to address hunger, food insecurity, and poverty in the Philadelphia area. 


We were particularly interested in food-related ideas that:


- attack the root causes of hunger and economic inequality;

- embrace creative approaches to collaboration and partnership;
- can be piloted at a small scale;

- have the potential to be replicated or scaled, and;
- are not overly duplicative of services or programs already in place in the Philadelphia area.


Questions? Check out the Full City Challenge FAQ and review a pdf of the application to get a sense of what it entails.


The application period has closed. 




The Economy League and Billy Penn reviewed applications and shortlisted select applicants for 30-minute in-person interviews in Center City Philadelphia on February 1, 2019. Shortlisted teams were notified during the week of January 28, 2019. Following interviews, the Economy League and Billy Penn selected up to six teams as Full City Finalists and invited them to advance through the Challenge. 



Full City Finalists participated in a rapid incubator workshop on February 12, 2019 where expert advisors from the Economy League network coached teams on their pilot plans and their pitches. Finalists also received support to create a GoFundMe page to share their idea and solicit donations. Billy Penn provided coverage of the workshop and GoFundMe pages.



Finalists pitched their ideas at a public event on Tuesday, February 19, 2019 at Green Soul, 1410 Mt Vernon St., Philadelphia. A panel of expert judges selected a grand prize winner to receive $5,000 to support implementation of a pilot of their concept. A People’s Choice Award prize of $2,500 was given to the team that raised the most money via GoFundMe.


The Economy League and Billy Penn are working with the Full City Challenge winners to implement their pilots, assess lessons from the pilot process, and position the solutions to advance to the next phase of development. 



  • Nick Bayer

Nick Bayer

CEO & Founder, Saxbys

  • Kim Carter

Kim Carter

Vice President, The Enterprise Center

  • Han Chiang

Han Chiang

Proprietor, Han Dynasty

  • Bill Golderer

Bill Golderer

President & CEO, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey

  • Anuj Gupta

Anuj Gupta

General Manager, Reading Terminal Market

  • Ellen Yin

Ellen Yin

Founder & Co-Owner, High Street Hospitality Group


  • Billy Penn
Billy Penn
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CIC Philadelphia
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Deloitte LLP
  • Green Soul
Green Soul
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Philadelphia International Airport
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Philadelphia Marketplace
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The Economy League
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University City Science Center