'Labor of love': Dodgers helping tackle food insecurity

July 19th, 2022

LOS ANGELES -- Few problems impact Los Angeles as substantially as poverty, homelessness and food insecurity. MLB, the Dodgers and the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation have partnered with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank to try to do something about it.

As part of an All-Star Legacy initiative, these groups came together at food bank in Downtown Los Angeles on Monday morning, ahead of the Home Run Derby, to package meals and weekend essentials for students and families living in poverty within Los Angeles.

"The All-Star Legacy initiative is all about making an impact on host communities of the Midsummer Classic," said SportsNet L.A. reporter Kirsten Watson, who hosted the press conference held prior to the packing. "Since 1997, this initiative has affected the lives of thousands, if not millions, of people all over the country. And it's been 42 years since baseball's summer jewel event has been to L.A., so this is the first time that our city has had the opportunity to celebrate the All-Star Week festivities, and also commemorate the tremendous work being done by the community."

Among those in attendance on Monday were Commissioner Rob Manfred; Dodgers president and part-owner Stan Kasten; Brianna Betts, wife of Dodgers outfielder and All-Star Mookie Betts; former Major Leaguer and current SportsNet L.A. broadcaster Jerry Hairston Jr.; and Nichol Whiteman, CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation.

"The All-Star Game is a great celebration of our sport," said Manfred. "It’s a lot of fun. We want to engage our fans and have a good time, but we pride ourselves at Major League Baseball on being a good citizen and in leaving something behind.”

This particular initiative has been underway since 2020, when the All-Star Game was originally set to take place at Dodger Stadium but was canceled due to the pandemic. COVID-19 has greatly exacerbated the issues the initiative set out to tackle, making the work being done more vital than ever.

By the time all is said and done, MLB, the Dodgers and LADF will have contributed more than $6 million to benefit nonprofits in the greater Los Angeles area.

This was the second volunteer event the Dodgers and the Dodgers Foundation have held at the L.A. Regional Food Bank this month, with several Dodgers players showing up to help out on June 8.

These events are just one part of an ongoing program that will provide four million meals and over 175,000 basic essential items for youth and families living in poverty. The program will support thousands of students and their families who will receive these items weekly at 15 Los Angeles Unified School District locations during the 2022-2023 academic year.

Michael Flood, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, emphasized what a difference the All-Star Legacy initiative has made for his organization.

“I just think it’s really important to see baseball’s commitment to local communities," said Flood. "We work with the Dodgers year in and year out. They’re a great partner, but shining a light -- you know, the nation is looking at Los Angeles, looking at this game and to see this community outreach -- I think is a really important component to show how baseball is giving back to their community.”

Boxes packed by the volunteers included a wide variety of food and beverage items, such as pancake mix, whole wheat flour, orange juice, apple juice, Nesquik, pancake syrup, almond butter, dried cranberries, oatmeal and cereal. Each student in the program will also receive a basic essentials kit, furnished by nonprofit organization Baby2Baby, to take home to their families that includes resources such as school supplies, hygiene items, and masks.

“This is a labor of love for us," said Kasten. "When this administration of the Dodgers got here 10 years ago, we stressed what we were going to do on the field, we stressed what we were going to do in the stadium for our fans, but equally important -- that the third pillar was what we were going to do to stay connected to our community. This community, and really all throughout Southern California, has supported our franchise. Record numbers for over 60 years.

"And it is so important that we continue that by continuing to give back with thousands of programs and tens of thousands of touchpoints along the year."