Philadelphia Phillies ace pitcher Aaron Nola is striking out his latest rival – hunger in the Greater Philadelphia region.
On Thursday, the star athlete, alongside 1993 National League champion Mickey Morandini, representatives from Citizens Bank, representatives from the Phillies organization and dozens of food bank employees and volunteers gathered at the Philabundance warehouse, 3616 S. Galloway St., to officially kick off the 2019 Phans Feeding Families initiative.
Marking its ninth consecutive season, the regional campaign, which partners the nonprofit organization with the Major League Baseball team and Citizens Bank, sparks every spring in an effort to foster hunger relief in our region. Since 2011, the effort has provided more than 1 million meals to families in need throughout the Delaware Valley through a total of $500,000, according to Philabundance.
“It’s so necessary,” said Phillies director of public affairs Scott Palmer. “Because, it’s hard to believe, in our area, more than 400,000 children go to bed at night not knowing where their next meal is going to come from or if there’s going to be a next meal in the near future.”
According to the campaign, more than 400,000 children around the Greater Philadelphia area go to bed hungry, which, as Palmer notes, can fill Citizens Bank Park nearly 10 times.
For every one dollar this initiative collects, two healthy meals can be provided to local families in need. During the event, Citizens Bank was on site to hand over a $40,000 check to Philabundance, which can offer approximately 80,000 meals.
Since most children receive two meals from school, the summer is an especially crucial season to host the food drive.
“There really is a dire need for food, particularly in the summer,” said Daniel K. Fitzpatrick, president of Citizens Bank, Mid–Atlantic Region. “…Baseball season is great, but it’s also an acute time to really tackle hunger alleviation. That’s why this is really, really a great event for all of us.”
The generosity didn’t cease at the news conference, as officials announced plans for the ballpark-wide Phans Feeding Families Day and Food Drive, which is scheduled for Saturday, June 8, during a home game against the Cincinnati Reds at 4:05 p.m., which will be followed by an Avett Brothers concert.
For every ticket sold for the game, the Phillies are going to give $8 to Philabundance, totaling 16 meals for every individual who attends the game. A 50/50 raffle will also be hosted that night, with a portion of proceeds going straight back to the food bank.
Giant foods, one of the campaign’s sponsors, plans to establish various stations along Citizens Bank Way, where ballpark attendees can either buy food or donate food to Philabundance. Those folks who support this cause will be given an $8 ticket discount to select 2019 Phillies games. They will also have the chance to meet Morandini, a former Phillies all-star.
“Hundreds of thousands of families go hungry every day in Greater Philadelphia,” Morandini said. “It’s a staggering amount, and it’s an issue that I’m very passionate about. The fight against hunger must continue, and we urge fans to support the Fans Feeding Families initiative to help Philabundance to provide meals to those in need.”
Aside from attendance and activities at the June 8 game, folks can contribute by making an online monetary donation to the campaign at philabundance.org or by spreading awareness using #PhansFeed on social media platforms.
Also. through May 31, fans can bid on new and game-used, autographed memorabilia via the MLB Ballpark App with the Phillies Charities Inc. Auction. Proceeds will also benefit the Philabundance campaign.
Through its regular outreach, including 19 distribution fresh food distributions, Philabundance feeds about 90,000 people per week. The organization estimates that 30 percent of this figure includes children and 16 percent are seniors.
But the eclectic team comprised of Citizen Bank and the Phillies, along with sponsors Aramark, Giant Food Stores, Goya Foods, Hatfield, SEPTA and Toyota, strive to chip away at these statistics one pitch at a time.
“It puts it in perspective what Philabundance is about – how many families and children this helps every day, every year,” said Nola, who was named the new Phans Campaign Ambassador. “I’m looking forward to letting this go on and getting to know everybody a little bit more. And, I look forward to seeing everybody on June 8 at the Phans Feeding Families Day.”
Program details are available at phillies.com/feedingfamilies.