Tourism board kicks off annual food drive
Event fulfills a promise made to Pope Francis
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 .
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.