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Phillies announce initiative to fight hunger

Phillies announce initiative to fight hunger

PHILADELPHIA — In the eyes of those who operate Philabundance, which as part of the Greater Philadelphia Food Bank is the Delaware Valley’s largest hunger relief organization, there can be no better partner than the Philadelphia Phillies.

“This is a fantastic boost in the arm for us,” said Philabundance president and executive director Bill Clark from the media room at Citizens Bank Park. “Many people don’t realize that the summertime is really our peak for need. Kids get out of school and there is an uptick in demand, and I think across the Delaware Valley, there is no organization that has more of the attention and the spirit of the community than the Phillies. For the Phillies and Citizens Bank to take the initiative and get behind us is a huge boost in helping us create awareness of the problem.”

On Thursday, just a few hours before the Phillies were set to take on the Red Sox in the final game of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park, the Phils, along with Citizens Bank and several other corporate sponsors — including Toyota, Goya, Coca-Cola, Aramark, Hatfield and ShopRite — announced the Phans Feeding Families initiative. The main objective is to raise money and food for more than 900,000 people at the risk of hunger in the Delaware Valley.

At the same time, a coexisting objective is to raise awareness of a problem that, while it is known, many don’t understand the extent of the problem in the current economy.

“There’s just not enough awareness of hunger,” Citizens Bank president and CEO Daniel Fitzpatrick said. “We have wonderful city that has so many great things going on, but you can’t forget that there are 900,000 people that are hungry.

“We take the good citizenship part very seriously. What we do in the community is as important as anything we do. We all love Philadelphia and want to give back. Look, it’s the right thing to do, and let’s be honest, its good business. We are making sure that the citizens of this region are healthy, and that carries over on a much larger scale.”

The first step came from the Citizens Bank Foundation, which donated a check for $133,000 to hunger relief and nutrition assistance in eastern Pennsylvania, of which $50,000 was earmarked for Philabundance. Over the next month, Phans Feeding Families — backed by ace Roy Halladay and his Halladay Foundation — will seek to raise awareness, culminating on July 31, when the Phillies host the Pirates.

Halladay has already taped one public service announcement and will be featured on Sunday in a segment that will air on the team’s weekly show “Behind the Pinstripes,” in which he will talk about his motivation with Phillies broadcaster Tom McCarthy.

“That’s one of the special things about our ballclub,” Phillies president David Montgomery said. “We have so many players already active in the community that we allow them to be the driving force. When we talked with the Roy and his wife this past offseason, he talked about this foundation and his goals to eliminate hunger. It’s really a perfect fit.

“The reality is, you have to congratulate Citizens Bank and all our other partners, because they’re the driving force behind this. We’re just glad we can lend our support.”

Mike Radano is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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