PHILADELPHIA --- With Wednesday's official start of summer, a season in which hunger in the Delaware Valley is especially prevalent, the Phillies and Citizens Bank, along with the Halladay Family Foundation and Phillies sponsors, introduced the second annual Phans Feeding Families program on Tuesday.
Speaking behind a dais full of boxed foods and canned goods at Citizens Bank Park, Phillies president David Montgomery spoke of the initiative's success in 2011, its inaugural year. Last year, 195,000 meals were provided to families through Philabundance and the Phans Feeding Families campaign.
"It's also a cause that has always resonated well with our fans," Montgomery said. "When we've told them there was a food drive, whether it was with our friends at ShopRite or now this concerted effort with [Citizens Bank], etc., the reality is there has always been a strong response from our fans."
There are multiple ways Phillies fans can help fight hunger in the Delaware Valley. Donations of non-perishable food will be accepted at Citizens Bank Park and SEPTA's AT&T Station on June 20, June 28 and Aug. 5. Purchasing a limited edition Phans Feeding Families pin for $8.99 helps provide 15 meals for families in need. In addition, each ticket package purchased to attend the Phans Feeding Families Day on Aug. 5 provides 75 meals for families.
Online monetary donations are also accepted at phillies.com/feedingfamilies, where more information can be found on how to help the cause.
Citizens Bank helped kick off the initiative on Tuesday with a $170,000 donation to provide hunger relief through organizations throughout eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Of that donation, $50,000 will go to Philabundance, providing 100,000 meals to the Phans Feeding Families program.
"By partnering with our friends at the Phillies to raise money and food for our neighbors in the Delaware Valley, we can make a greater impact on the region's hunger problem," said Daniel K. Fitzpatrick, president and CEO of Citizens Bank and RBS Citizens for Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. "The donation from the Citizens Bank Foundation will help Philabundance and other local hunger relief agencies feed more families this summer when there is an increased demand for emergency food."
Roy and Brandy Halladay are heavily involved with the initiative and the Phillies' ace pitcher even has a public service announcement that will soon be aired on broadcasts of Phillies games.
"Summer is a time of increased need, because thousands of the 300,000 children who rely on school meal programs no longer have access to this much-needed food," said Philadbundance president and executive director Bill Clark. "Hunger doesn't take a vacation, and Phans Feeding Families helps to meet this need at an important time of year."
Jake Kaplan is an associate reporter for MLB.com.