Philly Food Truck Festival set to raise funds for autism camp and FDR Park

    On Saturday, June 15, nearly two dozen food trucks will take over “The Lakes” for good causes.

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    From Indian to Italian cuisine, nearly two dozen food trucks offering a myriad of munchies will park their vehicles “down the Lakes” on Saturday afternoon.

    While hordes of foodies will take to FDR Park to satisfy their palates, the second annual “Philly Food Truck Festival” acknowledges a particular cause – raising funding for camps and programs designed for children with autism.

    Reprising their 2017 event, which was held in West Philadelphia, Bucks County-based Kamp for Kids, a 501(c)3 nonprofit founded in 2013, hosts free events, programming and camps throughout the year specifically oriented for underprivileged children and youth living with autism around the Philadelphia region.

    “Our ultimate mission statement is to help change a child’s life,” said Kamp For Kids co-founder Penni Morton, a native of Northeast Philadelphia. “That’s our goal in all of this. Let’s help a family in need. Let’s change a child’s life. That’s what we strive to do every day.”

    Funds from the FDR celebration will specifically go toward a family camp for children with autism, which is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 16, to Sunday, Aug. 18, at the Inn of Hope retreat at Serving People through Appropriate Development Evangel (S.P.A.D.E) International situated at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains in Kempton, Berks County.

    The century-old hotel, which was refurbished into a retreat center, will house the children and their families for the summertime getaway.

    Recalling their own cherished memories camping as children, the founders are organizing this weekend-long event of free programming, which will feature campfires, swimming, carnival games, movie nights, sports and sensory-friendly activities as well as activities for parents and those siblings without disabilities.

    “Lots of time, children with autism can experience sensory overload,” said Kamp for Kids co-founder Timothy Morton, a Berks County native. “So, we want them to have a great time but also prevent and preclude sensory overload.”

    For the Mortons, who are residents of Feasterville, Bucks County, the food truck extravaganza is a festive way to spread awareness of the cause while also securing funds for the camp. The founders say most of the funds will be raised through space reservation payments by trucks and vendors.

    The Morton family at one of their Kamp For Kids programs. (Photo courtesy of the Mortons.)

    Other funds will come from family-friendly activities scheduled for the festival, including carnival games and raffles featuring game tickets to Philadelphia Soul, Philadelphia Union and Temple University games.

    Team members from both the Union and Soul will be on site, along with their respective mascots, to sign autographs and conduct some sports drills with kids.

    The afternoon of excitement will be set to the sounds of live performances, including pop-soul singer-songwriter Dawson Coyle, who was featured on season 12 of “The Voice.”

    When families aren’t perusing the food trucks, they can dabble in an assortment of other excitements, including pie-eating contests, bouncy houses, face painting, sand art and balloon art.

    “Of course, people love food, so that will bring the people in. To me, it just feels very organic that people want to help other people,” Timothy Morton said. “We just want to help to change children’s lives.”

    While the majority of this intake will be designated for the camp, a portion of the funds will be reserved for the Friends of FDR Park, including its efforts with the colossal FDR Park master plan, as the group serves as one of the organizations working to bring the estimated $200 million capital project to life.

    The Mortons say a significant portion of the children they’ve served through their nonprofit live across the South Philly area.  Since South Philadelphia holds a sentimental place in their hearts, they thought it was only right to retain parts of the festival’s profits right in the region.

    “We definitely knew the event was gonna grow, so we wanted a larger location, and we were excited about the Friends of FDR master plan,” Penni Morton said. “So, we wanted to help out with that in any way we can, because we know that’s important to the people of South Philly. We know that’s important to them so it’s important to us…People just want to help people in their community, and we can all relate to that.”

    List of food trucks: Authentik Byrek, The Flying Pie Guy, Mama’s Meatballs, Pazzo’s Brick-Oven Pizza, Mannino’s Cannoli Truck, The Little Sicilian, QT Banh Mi Sandwich Truck, Pink’s Cold Treats Philly Cakery, Goodfellas, Roasted Liberties, Byz Empire Street Team, Battiano’s Ice Cream Truck, Sunny’s Gourmet Water Ice, Dr. Wutzit’s Wonder Balls, Rigatoni’s Famous Crab Cakes, Uncle John’s BBQ, Gotta Lotta Gelata, SoPhie Indonesian Cuisine, Foltz’s Concession, Papermill Asian Kitchen, Big Squeeze Lemonade, Monte’s Rollin Kitchen, Zaikka Indian Grill, Philly Goodfella’s and Cotton’s Place.

    To learn more about Kamp For Kids, visit http://www.kampforkids.org/kamp/.

    To sign up for the camp, email pennim49@gmail.com.

    gmaiorano@newspapermediagroup.com 

    Twitter: @gracemaiorano