To date, the VFTCB has collected more than 164,000 pounds of food to feed the hungry in Montco
KING OF PRUSSIA, PA – The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board’s first-ever Freedom from Hunger Spring Drive in March surpassed its goal of raising the monetary equivalent of 32,040 pounds.
“It never ceases to amaze me that when we challenge local leaders to step up, they always respond to that call,” said Mike Bowman, President & CEO of the VFTCB. “Our organization takes this commitment to the community extremely seriously. It’s our responsibility to take care of our friends, neighbors, and children.”
The online fundraiser ran throughout the month in an effort to help Montgomery County food pantries and soup kitchens recover from exhausting resources over the holidays, and prepare stock for the summer, as well as continue to build an overall awareness around the increased need in Montgomery County due to the continued impact of inflation, and to assist with less available financial aid. The VFTCB will still hold another drive in the fall as well.
The VFTCB again partnered 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 more than 60 food pantries and soup kitchens that feed those who are food insecure in Montco.
Donations to the food safety net system in the spring are remarkably low, according to Amanda Musselman, Executive Director of MAHN. And, 70% of the network MAHN serves continues to see a sustained increase in need. For example, Ardmore Food Pantry at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on the Main Line went from serving 85 households a week in July 2022 to 120 households currently. Some staff are concerned their pantry/kitchen may have to reduce hours/visits, or even close.
"MontCo Anti-Hunger Network is appreciative of the continued support of the Freedom from Hunger Food Drive by the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board,” Musselman said. “Hunger doesn't take a spring or summer break, and neither can we. Thank you to every individual and business who donated because your contribution is making a difference for our network of hunger relief partners to have the access to nutritious foods they need to serve their community."
In 2022, MAHN experienced:
- 85% increase in transportation costs, 12% increase in food costs, and 5% decrease in individual donations
Still, the organization was able to distribute 417,000 pounds in donated food, 44% rescued (87,063 meat, 78,642 dairy, and 52,144 produce), for more than 184,000 meals/household visits.
Due to passage of the recent federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, starting in March, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipient households no longer receive the Emergency Allotment (EA) additional payment created during the COVID-19 public health emergency and will resume receiving one SNAP payment per month.
Monetary donations provide the greatest flexibility in combating hunger because MAHN can purchase food wholesale, saving the network anywhere from $1-3 a pound, while immediately responding to critical needs.
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 164,000 pounds of food to feed the hungry in Montco. In its eighth year, 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.
If anyone needs assistance, view the list of MAHN’s food pantries and soup kitchens here: https://www.montcoantihunger.org/mahn-member-food-pantries.html.
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.