The Arizona Diamondbacks were leaders both in the National League West and the community on Friday as they joined forces with St. Mary's Food Bank to inaugurate a food pantry for kids in need at William Jack Elementary School in Glendale, Ariz. D-backs shortstop Nick Ahmed attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony
The Arizona Diamondbacks were leaders both in the National League West and the community on Friday as they joined forces with St. Mary's Food Bank to inaugurate a food pantry for kids in need at William Jack Elementary School in Glendale, Ariz. D-backs shortstop Nick Ahmed attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony alongside D-backs president & CEO Derrick Hall and St. Mary's president & CEO Tom Kertis.
"It's just an honor and a privilege to be here to help out and see the great work that the Diamondbacks Foundation and St. Mary's Food Bank are doing in our community," said Ahmed, who spoke in front of a group of 30 kids and brought his wife, Amanda, and his 21-month-old son, Jackson, to the event as well. "It's amazing. Knowing that kids in the valley won't struggle with hunger ... it's really vital to me."
The pantry was stocked with 10,000 pounds of canned food and non-perishable items that the kids at William Jack will not only be able to consume for breakfast and lunch in school, but also take home with their custom D-backs backpacks that they received as a gift.
"It's a big issue; You have 500,000 kids that don't know where their next meal is coming from, and we really want to focus on that," Hall said as he highlighted the need to help nourish Arizona's kids, adding that his goal is for 49 other schools to have pantries as well. "This is where it all starts ... these kids are all big Diamondbacks fans, and we also try to make it fun for them. We pick programs that are going to be very impactful in our state, and this is one of them."
According to St. Mary's, more than 2 million Arizonans face the challenge of food insecurity every year.
"We will reload [the pantry] every month for those families that are having trouble making ends meet and don't have enough food at home," Kurtis said after the ribbon-cutting. "That way the kids are well nourished and can excel in school.
"The D-backs are an incredible organization, and they do so much for the community. To work with them helps bring attention to important issues such as hunger in our state."
Poverty and the lack of proper nutrition is something that strikes the Latino community in Arizona stronger than most. The Feeding America network estimates that "nearly one in four Latino children are at risk of hunger in America, compared to 13 percent of white, non-Hispanic children."
Lina Rocha, a parent liaison at William Jack Elementary, aims to prevent that at a school where the majority of its students are Hispanic. Rocha was thankful for the relief that the D-backs and St. Mary's provided.
"We are so excited; I even get goosebumps, because I know that a lot of families are going to benefit from this," said Rocha. "If the kids are fed, they will be more ready to learn and they won't be struggling. We have a high percentage of Latin kids at this school, probably 80 percent. The Latin community is so big in Arizona, and if we can accomplish this now, then they are going to be ready for the future."
The kids took pictures and interacted with Ahmed, who wanted to leave them with a positive message for the future.
"Follow your passion and your dreams, work hard and surround yourself with people who believe in you," said the infielder.
With three meals a day now secured, the D-backs and St. Mary's lent a helping hand for those dreams to be one step closer to coming true.