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Grad school student has raised $30,000 for charities thanks to his homemade pizza

Ben Berman found a way to give back while sharpening his skills in the kitchen.

Berman, 27, is a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, working on his MBA. Berman told Today Food his mom is an “amazing cook,” who taught him “about food as a love language and a driving force to connect people.” Before moving to Philadelphia, Berman worked at restaurants in Maine and owned his own food truck, but was never a classically trained chef.

At the start of the pandemic, as a way to cheer up his friends, Berman bought some thick string and set up a pulley system. He made pizza in the kitchen of his second-floor apartment, put slices into paper bags, and then sent them down to friends on the street. “This was just about making my friends smile,” he said. Berman had fun trying out different crusts and toppings, and decided he could turn it into something more.

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Berman launched Good Pizza PHL, and asked his pals to Venmo donations in exchange for pizza. He pays for the ingredients out of his own pocket, and 100 percent of donations go to three charities that help fight food insecurity and homelessness: Philabundance, Project Home, and Share Food Program. He now gets hundreds of requests a week, so Berman chooses 20 people at random to pick up pizza on Sunday nights. “We hit $30,000 before the holidays,” he told Today Food. “My new goal is to keep adding on zeroes to that number.”