Courtesy of Bryan Buttler Media Relations, LLC
The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board (VFTCB) is currently in the midst of its 7th Annual Valley Forge Freedom from Hunger Food Drive to keep building awareness around hunger in Montgomery County.
With the hope of continuing the success from last year’s campaign – and due to the continued public health pandemic and the Delta variant – this year’s fundraiser will once again take place exclusively online with a goal of collecting 25,000 pounds of food the end of October to get to a lifetime contribution of 70,000 pounds.
The VFTCB is again partnering with the MontCo Anti-Hunger Network (MAHN), a coalition of hunger relief organizations working together to keep families stable with food assistance. MAHN provides resources to food pantries that feed those who are food insecure in Montco. Pre-COVID, that meant serving more than 28,566 households, and more than 60,000 individuals, a year. Over the past year, those numbers have increased to more than 38,060 households, and another 24,000 people for a total of 84,000, according to MAHN.
“Continued after-effects from the pandemic still threaten the stability of thousands of Montco households,” said Paula Schafer, Executive Director of MAHN. “A lot of people – many with young children – lost their jobs, their homes, and aren’t bouncing back. Staying fed is a real challenge for them right now, and we can’t address the increase in demand without help. Some may struggle for a long time, or are at risk of never regaining stability. So, this drive is important for folks to have a future moving forward, too. We’re so grateful for the support of businesses like the VFTCB that understand how community well-being is strengthened when all of us are fed. We hope other businesses step up, too.”
Throughout the last year, the number of food pantries in Montgomery County also went up from 38 to 47. About 28 of those food pantries rely exclusively on donated food to supply distributions. The food pantries span the spectrum in both size and capacity distributing anywhere from 1,200 pounds of food per month to tipping the scale at more than 100,000 pounds of food per month at the largest distributing food pantry in Montgomery County, Catholic Social Services in Norristown. That’s where the purchase of high-demand food items at wholesale process is most impactful, Schafer said.
“Now, more than ever, we’re asking for everyone that is able to give anything they can because there are so many in need,” said Mike Bowman, President & CEO of the VFTCB. “As leaders, it’s our responsibility to take care of each other. These are our friends, our neighbors, our families, our children, and every dollar counts. Please, do the right thing, and join us in our commitment to fighting hunger together.”
The Freedom from Hunger Food Drive benefits all people accessing food pantry services, and was created as a farewell “gift” to Pope Francis in 2015 when the Pontiff stayed in Montgomery County at the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary during the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. To date, the VFTCB has collected more than 45,000 pounds of food to feed the hungry in Montco. In its seventh, the drive continues to support the community that the tourism board diligently promotes to visitors across the nation, and around the world. To donate, visit www.valleyforge.org/hunger.