A COVID-canceled dinner party in March has turned into a global fundraising effort.

By Mike Pomranz
January 04, 2021
Advertisement

During the pandemic, plenty of people have used baking or other culinary hobbies to pass the time. A grad student in Philadelphia specifically turned his focus to pizza—but not content with firing up pies for his own consumption, he’s been literally lowering free pizzas from his second-floor apartment with a simple request that the beneficiaries donate money for charity—and he’s raised over $30,000 in the process.

Slice of pepperoni pizza on plate
Credit: Tetra Images/Getty Images

Good Pizza PHL isn’t an actual pizzeria—it’s just 27-year-old University of Pennsylvania MBA student Ben Berman and an Instagram account—but the pizzas he’s made in his one-bedroom apartment and the money he’s raised are very real. The Maine native told Penn’s Wharton School website that the very first drop happened last March somewhat by necessity. After moving to Philly in 2019, Berman took up pizza-making as a hobby and would invite friends over for dinner. When the emerging pandemic caused one of those get-togethers to be canceled and he was stuck with too much leftover dough, he told his friends to swing by anyway and he’d “drop” their pizzas down to them from his apartment window.

“People thought it was really cool. So I was like, alright well that’s interesting that there’s something here,” Berman explained. “As things got more dire over the summer, I wanted to find a way to give back. It was just an opportunity to marry those two things.”

Originally a word of mouth operation, Good Pizza took a major turn in November when it was featured on One Bite Pizza Reviews from Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy. Berman’s story was picked up by local media, and then he kicked off the New Year with a feature on CBS News. He now has over 17,000 Instagram followers.

And as interest in these bi-monthly giveaways grew, Berman began using a lottery system where people could sign up for his “pizza drops” via an email list or Instagram since demand was outpacing the number of pizzas he could cook. “I only make 20 pies a night,” he told Philadelphia’s 6ABC. “After that, I find that my oven starts to smoke and gives up a little bit.”

Still, each free pizza comes with a handwritten note, and all Berman asks for in return is a donation that can be sent through Venmo. From there, he chooses where the funds go including Philabundance and Project Home, charities that combat homelessness and hunger. CBS News says Good Pizza has made over 500 pies, raising more than $30,000 to date.

And even if you don’t win the pie lottery or live in Philadelphia you can still support the cause by sending money to his Venmo account: @GoodPizzaPHL. “Donations that have come in through people from all over the world, people without any expectation of ever trying pizza,” he told CBS. “Anyone that donates to us, 100 percent of what they give is being given away.”

Good Pizza’s Instagram account says more pizzas will be dropping this month—and during the downtime, Berman has been sharing photos and videos of his new pizza experiments. (Yes, he’s apparently still making pizza in his spare time, too.) “Good pizza for a good cause. That’s all I set out to do. What an amazing few months it’s been with your support,” he posted a few days ago. “Looking forward to much more of it all in the new year. THANK YOU for all the love and support!”