Monday, October 26, 2020

Food Drive, VFTCB’S Freedom from Hunger, Raises Equivalent of More Than 20,000 Pounds of Food

The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board’s (VFTCB) sixth annual Valley Forge Freedom from Hunger Food Drive has collected a total of $4,658.77 – at a rate of .23 cents per pound – that’s the equivalent of 20,256 pounds of food.

Since the drive began in 2015, the VFTCB has collected more than 45,000 pounds of food to feed the hungry in Montco, and still working!

Due to the additional need, and high demand, caused by COVID-19, the organization will continue to keep the Valley Forge Freedom from Hunger Food Drive donation link open, and push promotions on social, through the end of the year to help those struggling through the holidays. To donate, visit

“Thank you, thank you, thank you! We seriously can’t say enough how grateful we are to Montgomery County folks,” said Mike Bowman, President & CEO of the VFTCB. “This annual commitment to our community is so important. Our neighbors need us now more than ever. We can’t let this virus stop us. We must rally, and work together to fight COVID, and hunger.”

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 food pantries that feed more than 15,000 households a year, and serve the more than 80,000 people who are food insecure in the county. And, participation at many of those locations has been much higher than normal due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to MAHN officials.

“Dollars generated from this year’s Valley Forge Freedom from Hunger campaign will support MAHN’s COVID 19 response work,” said MAHN Executive Director Paula Schafer. “Thousands of Montco families are struggling to stay stable right now. Our goal is to channel as many resources to them as we can through our food pantry network. The visibility we get from Freedom from Hunger will equip us with more dollars and tools to do that.”

The Freedom from Hunger Food Drive benefits all people accessing food pantry services. COVID-19 has caused that number to grow. Those without the financial cushion required to manage a layoff, kids missing out on school meal programs, and seniors without means who are vulnerable to the virus are all in critical need of community support right now.

Since recovery from the public health pandemic could take years, more people than ever before will be relying on the charitable food network for assistance. This year’s donations will strengthen that network for people who need it today and tomorrow.

This year’s drive took place solely online with a goal of collecting 15,000 pounds of food. Monetary contributions to purchase canned goods, and other foods, were accepted instead of physical donations. To donate, visit

The donation link had been open since the pandemic hit Montgomery County in the spring, closing schools and businesses. Until the fall, the drive had raised almost $2,000, which translated to more than 7,000 pounds of food. The September push collected another almost $3,000, or an additional more than 13,000 pounds of food.

So far this year, 73% of 34 MAHN member food pantries have seen an increase in volume, in some cases double, or even triple, especially when nonessential businesses were shut down. At that time, the increase at high-volume pantries in Norristown and Lansdale saw as much as a 200-300% increase in client numbers, officials said.

Some of MAHN’s COVID-19 response work includes direct to pantry delivery of 56,710 pounds of COVID-19-prompted food donations, dollars for wholesale food purchases, and operating equipment needed by food pantries to keep up with demand, and stopgap distribution assistance to pantries temporarily closed for virus remediation, according to MAHN’s Executive Director, Paula Schafer.

The Valley Forge Freedom from Hunger Food Drive was created as a farewell “gift” to Pope Francis in when the Pontiff stayed in Montgomery County at the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary during the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. To date, more than 45,000 pounds of food have been collected!

*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 600+ 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.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Enjoying Cafe Spice is a Culinary Adventure at Home

 Craving restaurant-quality Indian, Mexican and Thai food, but don’t want to pay delivery fees and tips? Cafe Spice’s internationally acclaimed chef has developed authentic meals with bold flavors that can be enjoyed from the convenience of your home, in just minutes. 

You can indulge in a fine-dining, award-winning meal without leaving your home during these unprecedented times because Cafe Spice is now available through Amazon Fresh
Escape your mundane go-to meals and take your taste buds on an adventure.


Cafe Spice’s internationally acclaimed, award-winning Culinary Director, Chef Hari Nayak, brings a new, modern outlook to global cuisine without abandoning the authentic flavors, wonderful aromas, or rich culinary history in each meal.


What I love about Cafe Spice is fresh flavor in their dishes with bold and exotic flavors that let me feel like I’m having a culinary adventure from my house. Try them today!

Cafe Spice offers a wide range of heat-and-eat meal, appetizer and snack options on Amazon Fresh, including these great entrees:

Available in 16 ounce microwavable, BPA-free packaging, each meal is prepared fresh and can also be found in the deli and prepared foods section at your local grocery store.  

For more information on Cafe Spice and their full line of adventurous, global cuisines, visit

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Engchik Eats Newest Podcast! Listen Now!

 I've got new podcasts! Check it out! Featuring Laura Vernola-Simpson, co-owner of Steel City Coffeehouse in Phoenixville, PA on Fall eats, hot drinks, and their nanobrewery!

Monday, September 28, 2020

Phoenixville Favorite Steel City Coffeehouse & Brewery Debuts Pantry with Local Goodies

In these uncertain times, the restaurant industry has had to do a pivot unlike any other. Enter Steel City Coffeehouse and Brewery- which can now add store to its credentialed lineup. 

Steel City is now offering a pantry of locally sourced goods that cater to the local community and keep the love local. This boutique pantry is offering jams, granola, gluten-free bakery items, and so much more! You can try various items while you shop, too. 

"We sample one item on Saturday and Sundays to help drive sales and to allow our customers to try before they buy. All of the items are available for in-store shopping or curbside via our website," says co-owner Laura Vernola-Simpson.


"We really needed to adapt to the pandemic and when we initially closed indoor dining we were selling off our products, which our customers were really excited about. We sold out all of our inventory pretty quickly. About a month later customers started asking us if they could buy eggs, bread, and other items so that gave us the idea to add in the pantry offering not just items we already had but specialty items from small batch makers around the country," says Laura. "We use Faire, an online wholesale company for small batch makers, as well as our local friends like Stoudt's Wonderful Good Market Bread, Door Step Dairy, and Conebella Farm Cheese in Elverson, PA, plus Small Batch Granola (Vermont), Crisp & Co Pickles (Pennsylvania) and our honey spreads from Bumbleberry Farms (Somerset, PA)


Laura says so far the Feedback has been great! " We are hoping to add more requested items. Hot sellers are the essentials like milks, eggs, butter, cheese, pickles, and the Big Spoon Roaster Bars from Durham, NC.


The Steel City Pantry is now open 7 days a week through the end of winter 2021, 7am Monday through Friday, 8am on Saturday & Sunday, currently with limited indoor and outdoor seating, and has complimentary wifi. Steel City offers curbside takeout and delivery though UberEats.


Steel City Coffeehouse opened in 1997 and is Phoenixville's oldest coffeehouse and only listening room & live music venue. Since its inception, Steel City has gone through many changes (and owners). In 2016, it experienced a rebirth and has maintained its status as the artistic hub within the community under the ownership of Laura Vernola-Simpson and Ed Simpson. 

In early 2019, Steel City Coffeehouse became Steel City Coffeehouse and Brewery. Head Brewer, Jeremy Burke (formerly of Tuned Up Brewing) has been focused on creating their signature Steel Mill Stout, as well as two other seasonal brews. Steel City sources locally and supports fellow small businesses.

Check out their new pantry today!

Food Drive, VFTCB’S Freedom from Hunger, Raises Equivalent of More Than 20,000 Pounds of Food

The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board’s (VFTCB) sixth annual Valley Forge Freedom from Hunger Food Drive has collected a total of ...