MediterraneanGrocery Wholesalers in Philadelphia, PA

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The Largest Selection of Wholesale Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Products in Philadelphia

When it comes to trying new, exciting cuisine, few foods hit the spot like a deliciously fresh Mediterranean meal. However, we know that it can be very difficult to find authentic Mediterranean grocery wholesalers in Philadelphia, PA. Having lived in metro Atlanta for years, we realized that our customers needed an easy way to find quality wholesale Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food in bulk. That is why we created Nazareth Grocery Mediterranean Market – to give everyone a chance to enjoy tasty, healthy food, desserts, and authentic Mediterranean gifts at wholesale prices.

Founded in 2009, Nazareth Grocery has become one of Philadelphia’s leading international wholesale grocery stores. We are very proud to serve our customers and do everything in our power to give them the largest selection of high-quality wholesale goods available.

If you’re looking for the freshest, most delicious Middle Eastern wholesale products and ingredients, you will find them here at the best prices in the state. We encourage you to swing by our store in Marietta to see our selection for yourself. We think that you will be impressed!

The Nazareth Difference

At Nazareth Grocery Mediterranean Market, our mission is simple: bring you and your family the largest selection of wholesale Mediterranean products in Philadelphia. When coupled with our helpful, friendly staff and authentic Middle Eastern atmosphere, it’s easy to see why we are the top Middle Eastern grocery wholesaler in Philadelphia, PA. We’re proud to carry just about every kind of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern product that you can think of, from prepared meals and hookahs to fine seasonings and sweets. We’re here for our customers and want each one of them to have a unique, one-of-a-kind experience when they shop with us.

Our loyal customers love our selection of the following wholesale foods and gifts:

  • Fresh Breads
  • OlivesOlives
  • HummusHummus
  • CheesesCheeses
  • SaucesSauces
  • Savory-FoodsSavory Foods
  • DessertsDesserts
  • DrinksDrinks
  • HookahsHookahs
  • TobaccoTobacco
  • SaucesGifts
  • Much More!Much More!

Our Service Areas

Most Popular Wholesale Mediterranean Foods

There is so much more to Mediterranean food than pizza and pasta. The perfect climate combined with delicious foods and amazing wine makes the Mediterranean incredibly irresistible. That’s why our customers absolutely love to buy this kind of cuisine in bulk. Every country in this region has its own set of specialties and delicacies, each with its own flavors and styles of preparation.

Mediterranean countries include:

  • France
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Turkey
  • Syria
  • Egypt
  • Israel
  • Libya
  • Morocco
  • Tunisia
  • Spain

So, when it comes to the most popular wholesale Mediterranean products in Philadelphia,
what are we talking about?

Feta Cheese

Feta Cheese

Feta cheese is a classic Mediterranean dairy product that is often enjoyed on its own, in Greek salads, on bread, or mixed with zucchini. Depending on where the feta is sourced and produced, the cheese can be made from cow, sheep, or goat milk, or even a combination of the three. Regardless of the animal it comes from, this delicious cheese is a crowd favorite.

Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush

This Levantine dish is one of the most well-known Mediterranean dishes to eat in the United States. It typically comes in the form of a dip, served with pita or another kind of dipping bread. Commonly served before dinner as an appetizer of sorts, it usually features tahini, eggplant, garlic, spices, and sometimes yogurt. This tasty cuisine works great as a spread on a sandwich, or you can even eat it with a spoon, all on its own.

Baklava

Baklava

If you have never tried authentic baklava before, get ready to have your mind blown. This dessert is a traditional Mediterranean food that will have your taste buds craving more and more. Once you open a box of baklava from our Mediterranean grocery wholesaler in Philadelphia, PA, you won’t want to stop eating! Baklava is made with layers of thin filo dough, which is layered together, filled with chopped nuts (think pistachios), and sealed with honey or syrup. Baklava is so good that its origins are debated, leaving many wondering which country invented the dessert. Everyone from the Turks to the Greeks and even Middle Easterners hold unique takes on baklava. Try each one to discover your favorite!

Most Popular Wholesale Middle Eastern Foods

Fresh, healthy, aromatic, rich: it’s no wonder that the popularity of Middle Eastern cuisine and products has skyrocketed in the United States. This genre of cuisine features a large variety of foods, from Halvah to Labneh. If there were one common theme throughout all Middle Eastern food, it would be the bright, vibrant herbs and spices that are used. These flavorings help create rich, complex flavors that foodies fawn over. Typically, Middle Eastern food is piled high for all to eat, with enough food for an entire republic to put down.

Tabbouleh

This refreshing, healthy dish is chock-full of greens, herbs, tomatoes, and bulgur (or cracked wheat), creating a memorable, bold flavor. This dish may be eaten on its own or paired with a shawarma sandwich or helping of falafel. It’s best to buy your ingredients in bulk to make this dish because it tastes best freshly made with family around to enjoy. Just be sure to bring a toothpick to the tabbouleh party – you’re almost certain to have some leafy greens stuck in your teeth after eating.

Shawarma

Shawarma

We mentioned shawarma above, and for good reason – this dish is enjoyed by men and women around the world, and of course, right here in the U.S. Except for falafel, this might be the most popular Middle Eastern food item in history. Shawarma is kind of like a Greek gyro, with slow-roasted meat stuffed in laffa with veggies and sauce. The blend of spices and the smoky meat mix together to create a tangy, meaty flavor that you will want to keep eating for hours. For western-style shawarma, try using beef or chicken. For a more traditional meal, try using lamb from our Middle Eastern grocery distributor in Philadelphia, PA.

Hummus

Hummus

Traditionally used as a dip meant for fresh pita, hummus is a combo of chickpeas, garlic, and tahini, blended together until silky, smooth, and creamy. You can find hummus in just about any appetizer section of a Middle Eastern restaurant menu. That’s because it’s considered a staple of Middle Eastern food that can be enjoyed by itself, as a spread, or with fresh-baked pita bread. Hummus is also very healthy, making it a no-brainer purchase from our grocery store.

Benefits of Eating a Mediterranean Diet

If there’s one diet that is most well-known for its health benefits, it has got to be the Mediterranean diet. In 2019, U.S. News & World Report listed the Mediterranean diet as No. 1 on its best over diet list. This incredible diet has been cited to help with weight loss, brain health, heart health, diabetes prevention, and cancer prevention.

Whether you already love Mediterranean food or you’re looking to make some positive changes in your life, this “diet” is for you. Eating cuisine like Greek food, Persian food, Turkish food, and Italian food is healthy and tastes great. Even better than that? At Nazareth Wholesale Grocery, we have many staples of the Mediterranean diet for sale in bulk so that you can stock up on your favorites at the best prices around.

So, what exactly is the Mediterranean diet?

It is a way of eating that incorporates traditional Greek, Italian, and other Mediterranean cultures’ foods. These foods are often plant-based and make up the foundation of the diet, along with olive oil. Fish, seafood, dairy, and poultry are also included in moderation. Red meat and sweets are only eaten in moderation, not in abundance. Mediterranean food includes many forms of nuts, fruits, vegetables, fish, seeds, and more. Of course, you can find at them all at our wholesale Mediterranean grocery store!

Here are just a few of the many benefits of eating a healthy Mediterranean diet:

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

Reduced Risk
of Heart Disease

Many studies have been conducted on this diet, many of which report that Mediterranean food is excellent for your heart. Some of the most promising evidence comes from a randomized clinical trial published in 2013. For about five years, researchers followed 7,000 men and women around the country of Spain. These people had type 2 diabetes or were at a high risk for cardiovascular disease. Participants in the study who ate an unrestricted Mediterranean diet with nuts and extra-virgin olive oil were shown to have a 30% lower risk of heart events.

Reduced Risk of Stroke for Women

Reduced Risk
of Stroke for Women

In addition to the heart-healthy benefits of a Mediterranean diet, studies have shown that eating healthy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods can reduce the chances of stroke in women. The study was conducted in the U.K., which included women between the ages of 40 and 77. Women who stuck to the Mediterranean diet showed a lower risk of having a stroke – especially women who were at high risk of having one.

Benefits of Eating a Mediterranean Diet

First and foremost, purchase your Mediterranean and Middle Eastern wholesale foods from Nazareth Grocery – we’re always updating our inventory! Getting started on this healthy, delicious diet is easy.

Try these tips:

Try these tips

1.

Instead of unhealthy sweets like candy and ice cream, try eating fresh fruit instead. It’s refreshing, tasty, and often packed with great vitamins and nutrients.

2.

Try eating fish twice a week, in lieu of red meat. Fish is much healthier and doesn’t have the unfortunate side effects of red meat, like inflammation.

3.

Try planning out your meals using beans, whole grains, and veggies. Don’t start with meats and sweets.

4.

They’re tasty, but try to avoid processed foods completely.

5.

Instead of using butter to flavor your food, use extra virgin olive oil instead. Olive oil contains healthy fats and tastes great too.

6.

Try to get more exercise and get out of the house. The Mediterranean lifestyle is an active one, best enjoyed in the beautiful sunshine when possible.

Why Buy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Products Wholesale?

Buying wholesale and retail are quite different. When you buy products from a wholesaler, you’re essentially buying from the middleman between a retail establishment and the manufacturer. Wholesale purchases are almost always made in bulk. Because of that, buyers pay a discounted price. That’s great for normal buyers and great for business owners, who can sell those products to profit. This higher price is called the retail price, and it is what traditional customers pay when they enter a retail store.

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Latest News in Philadelphia

COVID-19 cases are declining around the Philly area, bringing cautious hope that omicron has peaked

COVID-19 cases and deaths are declining in Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs, prompting health officials in the region to express cautious optimism that the worst of the omicron surge may be over.In Philadelphia and its four neighboring Pennsylvania counties, hospitalizations are declining too, and city hospitals are beginning to feel relief from the press of COVID-19 patients that has swamped them in recent weeks.“Will that continue?” said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole in a news conferenc...

COVID-19 cases and deaths are declining in Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs, prompting health officials in the region to express cautious optimism that the worst of the omicron surge may be over.

In Philadelphia and its four neighboring Pennsylvania counties, hospitalizations are declining too, and city hospitals are beginning to feel relief from the press of COVID-19 patients that has swamped them in recent weeks.

“Will that continue?” said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole in a news conference Wednesday. “It depends on how people behave, among other things.”

Though case counts remain high, the number of new daily infections in Philadelphia, its collar counties, and South Jersey all appear to have peakedbetween Jan. 9 and 12, an Inquirer analysis showed. Since then, the average daily cases over the last week have dropped by more than a third in South Jersey, by 40% in Philadelphia, and by almost a quarter in Delaware, Chester, Bucks, and Montgomery Counties.

The declining case trends in Philadelphia mirror those in other Northeastern cities. Health officials tempered optimism, though, with a reminder that the omicron surge may be waning but isn’t over.

“I need to just point out and remind everyone we are still seeing thousands of cases a day on average, which is more than we have seen a day during this pandemic,” said Val Arkoosh, the chair of Montgomery County’s Board of Commissioners and a physician. “There will be ongoing impacts.”

The surge brought record-high case numbers to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the United States as a whole, infecting tens of thousands more people in this region. Some city-area hospitals were strained, though most weren’t as burdened as hospitals in certain other parts of Pennsylvania. If current trends continue, the region appears poised to be spared the death rate it reached last winter, and shouldn’t approach the mass fatalities of spring 2020.

Both Bettigole and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy also noted case counts remain far higher than at most other points in the pandemic. In Philadelphia, the seven-day average of new daily cases as of Tuesday was 1,979 — lower compared with more than 3,500 daily a week ago, but the highest peak prior to omicron was about 1,000 cases a day, Bettigole said. And while regionwide hospitalizations are down, Philadelphia’s 1,432 COVID-19-positive hospital patients this week are more than a week ago.

The positivity rate in Philadelphia is currently 21%, and health officials say a number that high indicates the virus is transmitting beyond testing’s capacity to capture the full extent of its spread.

“We are still in the thick of it,” Bettigole said. “Things are better, but we’re a long way from safe right now.”

New Jersey reported 8,465 new cases Wednesday, fewer than daily totals earlier this month, Murphy said, but also higher than tallies through most of 2021.

“We cannot look at a falling number and fall into complacency,” Murphy said. “Omicron inundated us once. We do not wish to see that happen again, and it can if we let our guards down.”

U.S. omicron cases first began rising in the Northeast, so while the wave may have crested here and in some West Coast cities, they are still rising elsewhere.

“The challenge is that the entire country is not moving at the same pace,” Vivek Murthy, the U.S. surgeon general, said Sunday. “The next few weeks will be tough.”

Nationally, health officials are predicting the omicron surge could result in 50,000 to 300,000 American deaths by March, the Associated Press reported. Evidence continues to mount that the omicron variant is less severe than other strains of COVID-19 but has a higher transmissibility. A smaller percentage of people infected are getting seriously sick, but so many people are being infected, the numbers of seriously ill are still huge. And the case counts were so high earlier this month, even a big decrease means the number of infected people is still high in comparison with other points in the pandemic.

“It was starting from a really high place,” said Jennifer Horney, founding director of the University of Delaware’s epidemiology program. “It’s still a really high place.”

What the latest numbers mean for the long-term path of the pandemic remains unclear. If omicron’s victims gain immunity against other forms of COVID-19 from their infections, there is the possibility the latest variant could be a step toward COVID-19 becoming endemic, a permanent addition to the bugs and viruses we all deal with, but one with only sporadic outbreaks.

“It’s not just going to fade away,” Horney said.

It is too soon to say, though, if omicron will be the final surge. The variant emerged because the low global vaccination rate allowed the virus to keep spreading and mutating, and another new variant could emerge in the future, said public health officials, stressing the importance of getting vaccinated and boosted now.

“The answer is we do not know that, and I think we have to be openly honest about that,” Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, said Monday at the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda. “I would hope that that’s the case, but that would only be the case if we don’t get another variant that eludes the immune response to the prior variant.”

Keeping case, hospitalization, and death numbers trending downward depends on people continuing to exercise restraint, Bettigole said. About 78% of Philadelphians 18 and older have had two doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but only 261,540 people have received booster shots, just over a quarter of the city’s vaccinated population.

Bettigole attributed that low number to people’s reluctance to again experience the possible mild side effects of vaccination, but she said booster shots were critical.

Murphy on Wednesday announced that workers in health-care settings and high-risk congregate facilities would be required to get booster shots.

“With omicron, we really need the boosters to be fully protected,” Bettigole said.

Bettigole has noted cases likely surged because family and friends gathered for Christmas but are declining now in part because people chose to restrict their socializing for New Year’s Eve.

“It’s not time to throw caution to the wind and live it up,” said Chrysan Cronin, professor of public health and epidemiologist at Muhlenberg College. “What we’re doing seems to be working, so let’s keep doing it.”

Nearly 2,400 more miles of Pennsylvania’s streams are impaired now compared to just two years ago; Philly has the highest percentage

One-third of all Pennsylvania waterways are now considered polluted enough to harm wildlife, recreation or drinking water, according to a report released this week by the state’s Department of Environmental protection.The DEP listed 27,886 miles of streams it found impaired in one or more ways, which is about 9% worse than its 2020 estimate.That’s 2,398 more miles of strea...

One-third of all Pennsylvania waterways are now considered polluted enough to harm wildlife, recreation or drinking water, according to a report released this week by the state’s Department of Environmental protection.

The DEP listed 27,886 miles of streams it found impaired in one or more ways, which is about 9% worse than its 2020 estimate.

That’s 2,398 more miles of streams that Pennsylvania has designated as impaired over the past two years, according to a report released this week by the state’s Department of Environmental protection.

Philadelphia and its suburban counties have among the most polluted waterways, according to the report, which is issued every other year.

The Integrated Water Quality Report is mandated under the Federal Clean Water Act, which is celebrating its 50th birthday this year.

Pennsylvania assesses streams for their impact on aquatic life, recreation, water supply, and whether fish can be eaten. That’s no small task: The state has 85,000 miles of rivers and streams.

Water samples are analyzed for ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, nitrogen, phosphates, calcium, magnesium, chloride, sulfates and dissolved solids. The DEP sets maximum loads for the pollutants, examines bacteriological samples to assess waterways for recreational use during summers, and tests fish-tissue samples.

Deborah Klenotic, a DEP spokeswoman, said that at least some of the increase in impaired streams is simply because staff assessed more miles than in 2020.

However, Shannon Gority, executive director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Pennsylvania, said the report shows not enough is being done to protect the state’s waterways and called it “a sad reminder that Pennsylvania must accelerate its rate of installing practices that reduce pollution to local waters.”

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has been prodding Pennsylvania for years to clean up the Susquehanna watershed, a key contributor to the pollution of the Chesapeake Bay.

Overall, Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia and the counties that ring it, show among the highest percentage of impaired streams in the state, according to an Inquirer analysis of the data. In fact, nearly 97% of streams in heavily urbanized Philadelphia are impaired, the highest rate of all counties in Pennsylvania. That’s followed by Delaware County at 94% impaired.

At least some segments of well-known local streams or rivers, as well as lesser known or unnamed tributaries, are all listed as impaired: The Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers; and the Wissahickon, Pennypack, Tacony, Byberry and Poquessing creeks.

Not all listed streams are impaired for all reasons. For example, most of the Delaware River as it runs through Philadelphia is listed as impaired for fish consumption because of PCBs.

Lancaster County is third highest with percentage of impaired waterways, at nearly 90%, but also represents the county with the highest number of overall impaired miles (1,286) in the state, likely because of agricultural runoff.

The top three known causes of impairment are agricultural, stormwater runoff, and acid mine drainage, which occurs when water flows over sulfur-bearing materials.

Though coal mining has shrunk compared to past decades, Pennsylvania still has 147 bituminous and 99 anthracite mines open. Active mines are not allowed to discharge untreated waste into waterways.

But because of the state’s legacy, it also has 5,000 or more abandoned underground mines throughout the state, a major issue for many environmental groups who want them cleaned up. Anthracite, or hard coal, which is the highest quality because of its carbon content, was mined in the eastern part of the state as early as 1775. Meanwhile, bituminous, or soft coal, was mined in the western part around 1760.

Many of those old mines discharged waste directly into waterways, or the waste seeped into the water.

The U.S. Department of Interior has been collecting fees from coal mining companies for each ton of coal produced to be used to address pollution coming from abandoned or unclaimed sites. Congress recently reauthorized the fees, and the Interior Department also recently announced it would extend that program, which expired in 2021, through 2034 after the bipartisan infrastructure law signed by President Biden awarded added $11.3 billion toward cleaning up land once used for mining.

Pennsylvania has already reclaimed thousands of abandoned coal mine sites, totaling 91,400 acres, for treatment or abatement.

“Abandoned mine drainage has consistently been one of the top three sources of pollution in Pennsylvania streams for decades,” said Jennifer Orr-Greene, Trout Unlimited’s Eastern policy director. “More than $1.5 billion has been spent cleaning up abandoned mine lands in Pennsylvania since 1980, but this report shows the enormous scope of the problems still ahead of us. It will take billions of dollars to reclaim known problems and restore degraded streams and rivers. That’s why it was so important last year to continue financing the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund, which has been critical in the restoration of hundreds of miles of waterways statewide.”

Trout Unlimited says the impact of cleaning up mine waste is clear. Fish populations are rebounding on portions of the West Branch Susquehanna River. Since 2009, 26 miles of the branch’s main stem have been designated as wild trout waters, along with 215 miles of tributaries, many of which had previously been impaired.

The DEP also collected data on streams that run through the state’s biggest river watersheds.

Though the main stem of the Delaware River runs 330 miles through four states, from New York to the Delaware Bay where it meets the Atlantic Ocean, the bulk of it borders Pennsylvania. It is fed by 2,000 tributaries, with the Schuylkill and Lehigh Rivers in Pennsylvania being the largest.

So the DEP looked at 10,491 miles of the Delaware River watershed within the state. The data show that 4,748 miles, or about 44% of the streams were impaired.

But that was better than several other of the state’s major watersheds, including the Genesee River, which starts in New York and runs into Pennsylvania.

Scientists also examined water quality for the state’s lakes. Philadelphia joined Cameron, Clinton, Dauphin, Forest, and Venango Counties as having 100% of publicly accessible lake acreage listed as impaired. However, that included only 25 acres in Philadelphia. The DEP data did not name the lake or lakes.

Mercury, nutrients, pH and dissolved oxygen were the top causes of pollution in lakes across the state.

John Jackson, a scientist with the Stroud Water Research Center, said some of the findings are positive. He said the increase in the number of stream miles designated as impaired is simply because the DEP has more information from new data, and that there were not likely a batch of streams going from good to poor. However, he recognizes pollution as a major problem.

“The many thousands of miles of impaired streams, and high proportions in southeastern Pennsylvania counties described in this report, tells us that polluted streams are still common in our neighborhoods, and we have a lot of work to reduce the pollution reaching those streams and eventually the Delaware River and its estuary,” Jackson said.

Philadelphia Man Charged with Stealing Nearly $200,000 in PPP Funds

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Omar White Oliver, 43, formerly of Philadelphia, PA, was arrested and charged by Indictment for his involvement in a scheme to unlawfully obtain and misuse loan proceeds offered through the federal Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”).The Indictment, unsealed today, charges the defendant with four felony counts: two counts of bank fraud and attempted bank fraud, and two counts of money laundering. The charges stem from Oliver’s alle...

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Omar White Oliver, 43, formerly of Philadelphia, PA, was arrested and charged by Indictment for his involvement in a scheme to unlawfully obtain and misuse loan proceeds offered through the federal Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”).

The Indictment, unsealed today, charges the defendant with four felony counts: two counts of bank fraud and attempted bank fraud, and two counts of money laundering. The charges stem from Oliver’s alleged scheme to fraudulently obtain approximately $186,750 in PPP loan proceeds by making false representations regarding his alleged real estate business, Oliver Twist Real Estate, LLC. The Indictment alleges that Oliver made multiple false characterizations about the business, including the number of employees, the wages paid to them, the payroll taxes paid on those wages, and the intended use of the PPP loan proceeds. According to the Indictment, the defendant then used those PPP loan proceeds for personal and unauthorized purchases, including a luxury automobile and an American Express platinum card bill. As charged, the defendant also caused a second fraudulent PPP loan application to be submitted for approximately the same amount in early 2021, but that application was denied.

“Paycheck Protection Program funds are intended to help American small businesses continue paying their employees, even if revenues have dropped dramatically due to the pandemic,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “Thieves who attempt to take these funds are taking advantage of others’ misfortune – ripping them off while also ripping off all taxpayers who fund the program. Here, the defendant is charged with fraudulently obtaining nearly $200,000 that could have helped struggling businesses and individuals but instead allegedly paid for personal indulgences.”

“The Paycheck Protection Program was implemented amid widespread economic upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “The intention was to keep both businesses and employees financially afloat — not afford scammers some lavish lifestyle. Anyone who thinks defrauding U.S. taxpayers is a quick way to an easy payday best think again, because the FBI stands very ready to hold you accountable.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mary E. Crawley.

UNITED STATES ATTORNEY’S OFFICE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA 615 Chestnut Street, Suite 1250 Philadelphia, PA 19106 JENNIFER CRANDALL Media Contact 215-861-8300 If you have not done so already, follow @USAO_EDPA and @USAttyWilliams on Twitter to get the most up-to-date information about big cases and community news.

More Philly-area schools go virtual as COVID cases continue to surge

BROOMALL, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Schools across the Philadelphia region continue to pivot as COVID-19 cases climb.The surge has forced some school districts to go back to virtual learning, which is receiving both criticism and praise from those being impacted.The Marple Newtown School District announced through an email that virtual learning will be in effect for the remainder of the week due to staffing shortages caused by the virus.The move sent some parents scrambling when they got wind of the plan."Last n...

BROOMALL, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Schools across the Philadelphia region continue to pivot as COVID-19 cases climb.

The surge has forced some school districts to go back to virtual learning, which is receiving both criticism and praise from those being impacted.

The Marple Newtown School District announced through an email that virtual learning will be in effect for the remainder of the week due to staffing shortages caused by the virus.

The move sent some parents scrambling when they got wind of the plan.

"Last night I was scrambling and I had to take off after all of my winter breaks, so it's really stressful. It's just hard for working parents that don't do virtual," said Macey Much of Newtown Square.

The latest data from the CDC shows that it's not only teachers and staff in Pennsylvania coming down with COVID, but students as well.

SEE ALSO: Walmart temporarily closes stores in South Philly and Williamstown, NJ amid rise in COVID cases

From December 4, 2021 through January 1, 2022, cases among 16 to 17-year-olds skyrocketed 102% -- from 66.4 cases per 100,000 students to 134.6.

"To be honest with you, I'm really glad that we're going virtual for the time being cause I was terrified to send her back right now. It's not only COVID, it's everything else with all of the people gathering, it's scary," said parent Kiki Kara Mitopolous of Broomall.

Other suburban school districts in the five-county region including Upper Darby are planning to remain open for in-person instruction for the time being.

SEE ALSO: 92 Philadelphia schools going temporarily virtual due to staffing challenges related to pandemic

The Pennsylvania State Education Association for the southeastern region, which represents some 15,000 teachers and other staff across 30 school districts in Delaware and Chester counties, has been monitoring the situation.

"Really, it's unique to every single school environment. You can't say that there is like one silver bullet, one shoe fits all kind of solution," said Zeek Weil, the regional coordinator for PSEA.

The Philadelphia School District now has 92 schools that have moved to a virtual learning plan after a spike in last-minute COVID-related staffing shortages.

The pivot is being slammed by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers as an "outrageous 11th-hour plan."

"The entire school system should not have open for children and staff until the district and the union is able to assess the school buildings and to make sure that the buildings are safe for children and for staff," said union president Jerry Jordan.

Pa. teacher and therapy dog bring comfort to Chester County

CHESTER SPRINGS, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- John DeSantis is a high school teacher at Bishop Shanahan High School in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. And when he is not solving equations, he is becoming part of the solution to anxiety among all ages.The lover of Rough-Collie dog breeds had always wanted to elevate his own pet to a position where it could serve the community. But DeSantis knew a special dog with the right temperament and training readiness was required for the job.Then, he met Ingrid."I got her about two and a...

CHESTER SPRINGS, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- John DeSantis is a high school teacher at Bishop Shanahan High School in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. And when he is not solving equations, he is becoming part of the solution to anxiety among all ages.

The lover of Rough-Collie dog breeds had always wanted to elevate his own pet to a position where it could serve the community. But DeSantis knew a special dog with the right temperament and training readiness was required for the job.

Then, he met Ingrid.

"I got her about two and a half years ago," he said. "The previous owner couldn't afford to keep her. She needed two different procedures."

DeSantis took in Ingrid and spent four months catching the pup up to speed on her health.

"I think, in a way, I was kind of meant to have her," he said.

Starting in late 2019, DeSantis enrolled Ingrid in therapy dog training. All was going well until the COVID-19 pandemic placed a several-month pause on their efforts. After passing a certification test and completing five different levels of behavior classes, Ingrid was ready to meet her community.

DeSantis and Ingrid can be found visiting area schools from preschool to college level. They also make routine trips to Camilla Hall, home of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and various other senior centers. They also pop up and greet shoppers at Hobby Lobby and Citadel Bank.

"We go out and do these visits for free," said DeSantis. "I don't charge. I don't ask for any money. I don't take donations."

DeSantis says the goal is to share his dog's warmth to bring comfort to people of all ages. Action News was there as he visited Saint Matthew's Preschool and Kindergarten in Chester Springs.

"With the pandemic, there's a lot more anxiety types of behaviors that are seeing," he said. "So, the dog therapy visits are good because they break up the boredom and it does help them with their socialization."

Margie Miller's kindergarten class is thrilled whenever Ingrid comes to say hello.

"Especially with where we are right now in the pandemic and the rules that we have to maintain, I think it does help interspersing things such as recess and surprises like Ingrid," said Miller. "And then they can come back to the academic part of our day and have a little bit of an extra punch of energy for it."

And for the foreseeable future, both DeSantis and Ingrid have enough energy to continue touring throughout Chester County.

"It's amazing the impact that it has on people," he said. "And as long as she's healthy and she's enjoying this, we'll keep doing this."

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RELATED: Pa. Animal rescue saves lives of heartworm-positive dogs

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