The goal is to collect 5,000 pounds of canned food by September 30th to support community members in need in Montgomery County
The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board (VFTCB) kicked off its fourth annual Valley Forge Freedom from Hunger Food Drive on Friday by lending a hand to help underserved individuals at a Norristown community food shelter.
A former executive chef, VFTCB’s President & CEO, Mike Bowman, worked alongside Montgomery County Commissioners and Culinary Arts Institute at Montgomery County Community College members to cook Friday afternoon’s meal for between 100 and 150 people at Haws Kitchen, located in Haws Avenue United Methodist Church in Norristown. Custard dessert was generously donated by Shake Shack King of Prussia.
“It’s so important that we keep our commitment to run this annual food drive, and support our residents in Montgomery County, especially those who are in times of need,” said Bowman. “It’s about raising awareness, as well as showing them the respect they deserve.”
The VFTCB’s Valley Forge Freedom from Hunger Food Drive will collect donated canned goods at various drop-off locations throughout the county from September 16-30. This year’s goal is a record 5,000 pounds, and online monetary donations will also be accepted.
That’s good news to folks like Mary Alice Laws, who started the Haws soup kitchen in 2000 with two teams serving freshly cooked meals every other Sunday. Now, 10 teams of church and community members serve each Sunday – that’s 6,000 people a year, including veterans, and children, she said.
Laws also added that their goal is to make guests feel at home, and certain staff members even work to supply them with clothing, and help them find jobs, and apartments.
The need 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.
Last year, the VFTCB collected more than 3,800 pounds of food donations and exceeded the Board’s goal by more than 300 pounds of food. The VFTCB has increased its goal for donations every year since the drive began in 2015, and to date has collected more than 9,000 pounds of food to feed the hungry in Montgomery County.
This year, the VFTCB will be partnering with one of the newest breweries to be opening in Montco – and the only craft brewery in King of Prussia – Workhorse Brewing Company – on a local beer series, featuring a new brew each quarter, that will be branded using the help of area artists. A portion of the proceeds from the sales of that beer will go to the food drive.
The VFTCB is also partnering again with the MontCo Anti-Hunger Network – a coalition of hunger relief organizations working together to make healthy foods available to all communities in Montgomery County.
“Partnering with leaders like those at the VFTCB makes a world of difference in our work,” said MAHN (MontCo Anti-Hunger Network) Administrator Paula Schafer. “Everyone benefits from a more vibrant community when the basic needs of its residents are met.”
MAHN support 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.
The VFTCB’s Valley Forge Freedom from Hunger Food Drive was also recognized with a 2018 Communitas Excellence in Community Service Award. To learn more about the drive, find drop-off locations or make a monetary donation, please visit www.valleyforge.org/hunger.
The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board (VFTCB) is a nonprofit, membership-based sales and marketing organization that actively promotes Valley Forge and Montgomery County, PA as a convention site and leisure visitor destination by encouraging patronage of its 500+ member hotels, restaurants, attractions, and services. The award-winning website links visitors, meeting planners, tour operators, and residents to a diverse portfolio of brands focused on reasons to visit the region.