Tourism board kicks off an­nual food drive

Event ful­fills a prom­ise made to Pope Fran­cis

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Donna Rovins drovins@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Mer­cBiz on Twit­ter

VAL­LEY FORGE » More than two tons of food — 4,500 pounds to be ex­act.

That is the am­bi­tious goal for the Val­ley Forge Tourism and Con­ven­tion Board’s third an­nual Val­ley Forge Free­dom from Hunger Food Drive.

The cam­paign runs through Sept. 30. Do­na­tions ben­e­fit the Montco Anti-Hunger Net­work, a coali­tion of hunger re­lief or­ga­ni­za­tions work­ing to­gether to make healthy foods avail­able to all com­mu­ni­ties in the county.

The re­turn of the food drive ful­fills a prom­ise made by the agency in 2015, when Pope Fran­cis stayed in Mont­gomery County at the St. Charles Bor­romeo Sem­i­nary dur­ing the world Meet­ing of Fam­i­lies in Philadel­phia. The tourism agency cre­ated the food drive as a “farewell” gift to the Pon­tiff.

The drive was of­fi­cially launched Thurs­day night dur­ing an open house at the tourism board’s King of Prus­sia of­fice. Join­ing in the launch were Mont­gomery County Com­mis­sion­ers Joe Gale, Val Arkoosh and Ken Lawrence.

For this third year — the Val­ley Forge Tourism and Con­ven­tion Board has set a

goal of col­lect­ing 4,500 pounds of food. Last year, the agency col­lected 3,600 pounds of food — more than dou­ble its orig­i­nal 1,776 pound goal.

“It is im­por­tant to the Val­ley Forge Tourism & Con­ven­tion Board that we sup­port all of our res­i­dents in Mont­gomery County, es­pe­cially those who are in times of need,” said Mike Bow­man, Val­ley Forge Tourism and Con­ven­tion Board pres­i­dent and CEO. “Through our an­nual Free­dom from Hunger Food Drive, we con­tinue to em­u­late the Pope’s giv­ing spirit in an ef­fort to give back, work to­gether and cre­ate a vi­brant and sup­port­ive Mont­gomery County com­mu­nity where we live, work and play.”

The event is again be­ing held in part­ner­ship with the HealthS­park Foun­da­tion — which is a pri­vate, in­de­pen­dent foun­da­tion pro­vid­ing sup­port to or­ga­ni­za­tions that serve the un­met health and hu­man ser­vice needs of res­i­dents liv­ing in and or­ga­ni­za­tions serv­ing Mont­gomery County, and the MontCo Anti-Hunger Net­work.

The food drive will ac­cept all non-per­ish­able food do­na­tions, but there are some items that are par­tic­u­larly needed this year, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion on the event’s web­site. Among the pantry items that are in the high­est de­mand: To­mato/ spaghetti sauce; whole, diced or crushed toma­toes; canned fruit in fruit juice; to­mato and chunky soups (not chicken noo­dle); any low salt and low sugar prod­ucts.

Col­lec­tion boxes for non­per­ish­able food will be lo­cated at the tourism board’s of­fice, 1000 First Ave., King of Prus­sia, and at part­ner lo­ca­tions across the county. A list­ing of those lo­ca­tions will be made avail­able on the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s web­site — www. val­ley­forge.org/hunger .

Mone­tary do­na­tions are be­ing ac­cepted this year for the first time, which will al­low the Montco Anti-Hunger Net­work to pur­chase items to re­plen­ish the food pantries it serves. Those in­ter­ested in mak­ing a mone­tary do­na­tion can visit www.val­ley­forge.org/hunger .

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

The Mont­gomery County Com­mis­sion­ers helped the Val­ley Forge Tourism and Con­ven­tion Board of­fi­cially launch its third an­nual Free­dom from Hunger Food Drive Thurs­day dur­ing an open house at the agency’s King of Prus­sia of­fice. The drive runs through Sept. 30 and or­ga­niz­ers have set a goal of col­lect­ing 4,500 pounds of food. Shown from left are: Com­mis­sioner Joe Gale, Monty the Fox (the agency’s mas­cot), Val­ley Forge Tourism and Con­ven­tion Board Pres­i­dent and CEO Mike Bow­man, Com­mis­sioner Val Arkoosh and Com­mis­sioner Ken Lawrence.

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