Ben Berman was planning to make pizzas for a dinner party with friends when the coronavirus pandemic hit.
It was March last year, and it was clear that gathering in large groups wasn’t safe. So the Wharton graduate student came up with a way to get rid of all of the pizza dough he had made for the party — and bring a smile to everyone’s face at the same time.
“I (told) my friends that if they come over, I will lower them pizza onto the street,” Berman, 28, told CNN.
He bought 40 feet of string and developed a pulley system to lower slices to friends from his second-story apartment window, according to his website. “It was just something to brighten our day during that time with so much uncertainty staring us in the face,” he said.
A fun idea with friends soon turned into a way to make a big impact on the community.
About midway through the summer, Berman began to ask friends whether they would donate to a good cause in the area when they came to get pizza. And that’s where the fundraising for Philadelphia hunger and homelessness non-profits, such as Philabundance, Project Home and Share Food Philly, began.
“I wanted to make an impact in areas that I felt like were hit particularly hard this year,” said Berman. “Two things that I know people are really struggling with is food security and homelessness this year more than ever before.”
Today, Berman says he has made more than 500 pizzas and raised about $56,000 for the Philadelphia area through his project, which he named Good Pizza. He now makes 20 pizzas a week for lucky Philadelphians who are selected through a lottery to pick up a homemade pizza. Customers are asked to donate through Venmo if they are inspired to do so.
For each pizza drop, he makes his favorite cheese pizza, finished with basil and his homemade garlic oil on the crust.
Berman’s cause grew so much that he now has more than 24,000 followers on Instagram and receives messages from people all over the world who want to donate and help the cause.
He says he is humbled by all the interest in his project and will continue to make pizzas and give back to the community.