On September 9, the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board (VFTCB) kicked off its fifth annual Valley Forge Freedom from Hunger Food Drive, a month-long campaign to build awareness about Montgomery County’s neediest community members.
The Valley Forge Freedom from Hunger Food Drive will collect donated canned goods at various drop-off locations throughout the county from September 9-30. All donations will benefit VFTCB’s partner organization, the Montco Anti-Hunger Network (MAHN), a coalition of hunger relief organizations working together to make healthy foods available to all communities in Montgomery County.
This year’s canned food goal is a record 6,000 pounds which will bring VFTCB’s overall total to 20,000 pounds. Also being accepted this year are online monetary donations which will be converted into pounds to be added to the campaign’s goal.
“The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board is invested in our community,” said VFTCB President & CEO Mike Bowman. “Our Freedom from Hunger Food Drive is a real, tangible way we can make an impact on a personal level for those in need in Montgomery County.”
In addition to the food drive, the VFTCB partnered with the Culinary Arts Institute of Montgomery County Community College (CAI) and the Montgomery County Commissioners on September 13 to cook a Friday lunch for patrons at Cecil and Grace Bean’s Soup Kitchen in Norristown. CAI, located in Lansdale, is one of the drop-off locations for the food drive.
CAI students Danielle Cacador, Emma Laigaie, Nicole Scarpaci, Isabella Vitelli and Tara Young helped Chair of the Montgomery County Commissioners, Valerie A. Arkoosh, MD, MPH, Vice Chair Kenneth E. Lawrence and Commissioner Joseph C. Gale. Bowman, along with Director of the Culinary Arts Institute John DePinto and Culinary Resource Manager Benjamin Vozzo, oversaw the volunteers as they prepared the meal and welcomed and served the guests.
Food insecurity in Montgomery County is part of the reason why the VFTCB established the food drive in 2015 as a farewell “gift” to Pope Francis, who stayed in Montco at the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary during the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.
In 2018, the VFTCB collected more than 5,000 pounds of food donations and has increased its goal for donations every year since the drive began in 2015. To date, the drive has collected more than 14,000 pounds of food to feed the hungry in Montgomery County.
“Food pantries are a vital community resource that depend on donated food and dollars to operate,” said MAHN Administrator Paula Schafer. “We cannot be effective in our work without the help of our broad reaching out to organizations like VFTCB. The Freedom from Hunger Food Drive increases MAHN’s donation base and raises awareness about hunger in Montgomery County. It’s an essential partnership that amplifies our impact.”
MAHN helps feed more than 15,000 hungry households a year. Most needed canned items include tomatoes, sauce, fruit, and chunky soups. The food generated by the Valley Forge Freedom from Hunger Food Drive is going to help nourish just some of the 80,000 people who are food insecure across Montgomery County.
Learn more about the Valley Forge Freedom from Hunger Food Drive; find a drop-off location near you or make a monetary donation.