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MLB, Feeding Children Everywhere team up

Interns package over 10,000 meals for local families
July 17, 2019

NEW YORK -- For over 60 interns at Major League Baseball, Wednesday started off as a typical workday. After reporting to their respective office locations at Park Avenue and Chelsea Market, they began their morning routine, checking in with their supervisors and working on their assigned tasks. But at 11:30

NEW YORK -- For over 60 interns at Major League Baseball, Wednesday started off as a typical workday.

After reporting to their respective office locations at Park Avenue and Chelsea Market, they began their morning routine, checking in with their supervisors and working on their assigned tasks. But at 11:30 a.m. ET -- when most employees might be preparing for their lunch break -- they all gathered in a multipurpose room at the Office of the Commissioner to volunteer with Feeding Children Everywhere.

The nonprofit organization, whose mission is to provide healthy meals to those in need, had set up one of their signature events called a Hunger Project, with the MLB interns acting as their “Hunger Heroes.” In an hour and a half of service, the interns packaged 10,575 meals for families in the local community, while putting together another 600 meals as part of the nonprofit’s first implementation of its “purpose palate” initiative.

“This was a 10 out of 10,” said Briana Blanchard, the event lead for the Hunger Project. “We went over our meal goal, and that’s always a beautiful thing so we definitely want to celebrate that. The fact that they were so proactive in doing something that was brand new for us, and they made it so easy with being focused, being energized, being super proactive with it -- that made our job really easy. So, this was a big success for us. We’re really thrilled about it.”

The interns -- wearing volunteer t-shirts and mandatory hairnets -- were divided into six teams and stationed at different tables within an assembly-line model. Four groups of 12 worked together to fill 47 boxes with bags of Italian veggie pasta that would be sent to the local warehouse of the Orlando-based nonprofit and later distributed to food banks in the area.

One intern held a bag under a funnel while four others poured lentil beans, dehydrated vegetables, salt and, lastly, pasta into it. The bag would then be weighed on a scale by two interns to ensure that it remained between 175 and 185 grams, otherwise they would have to scoop out rotini to hit the mark. Three more interns would take turns operating a machine that sealed the bags, and the final two would place the bags into a box until they hit 45, at which point they rang a cowbell to signify a completed box of 225 meals -- eliciting cheers from all the interns along the assembly line.

“I had no idea this was gonna be part of the [internship] program at all,” said Ava Villalba, a sponsored content intern. “But this was fun, to get to interact with everyone and help people at the same time. It was really cool.”

At noon, Blanchard started a contest among the interns, challenging the four tables to see which group could fill four boxes the fastest. For an already-engaged group, the competition raised the energy across the board, with more enthusiastic celebrations after each finished box and multiple interns claiming to be on the “best assembly line in the game.” It took only 25 minutes for a champion to be crowned.

“I was really impressed with how competitive it was,” Blanchard said. “The fact that they just dove in so wholeheartedly about it is always a lot of fun. But it did stay a very positive thing, which is always really nice. Sometimes, you know, people tiptoe on that [line of competitiveness], you gotta babysit it a little bit, but this was incredible. This was definitely the right headspace they came in with.”

The other two groups of six apiece focused on the “purpose palates,” packaging boxes with four non-perishable menu items that would be sent directly to families. The interns went down the line, filling the boxes with bags of pinto beans, Hamburger Helper, macaroni and cheese and pasta bites, before sealing the boxes with duct tape and placing a sticker that read: “From your friends at MLB.”

Those interns managed to bundle 150 boxes, which came as a “pleasant surprise” to Blanchard and her staff of five volunteers, who worked alongside the interns setting aside finished boxes and refilling bins of food materials. It was the first time the nonprofit had attempted this style of a Hunger Project after much internal planning, and Blanchard said it went much better than anticipated.

“The fact that it was going so fast -- and I’m not sure if this is a testament to the people that were here today -- but we actually had [fewer] people on that line than what we thought we would need to have it function correctly," said Blanchard. “We’ll be able to put out a lot bigger numbers with [fewer] volunteers, so that was really encouraging to see. We’re quite proud of that. That was really cool to see come to life.”

In a fitting touch, all six members of Feeding Children Everywhere showed up in MLB attire, with the Yankees as the favored option but with the Mets, Braves and Phillies also represented. John Schwarz, MLB’s senior coordinator of community affairs, worked with the nonprofit to set up the volunteer event for the interns, hoping that they would see how dedicated the company is to making an impact beyond baseball.

“[We wanted the interns] just to know that MLB has a strong history of supporting the community, and it’s something that’s ingrained in our fabric as the national pastime,” Schwarz said. “It’s something we take seriously. We embrace the legacy of Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente -- the great players who spent their lives giving back.”

At 1 p.m., all the interns gathered together for a group photo, tossing their hairnets in the air as if they were graduation caps when Blanchard told them the overall tally of 10,575 meals. Then they went back to work, having accomplished perhaps their most important task of the day.

“That’s crazy that we were able to do that in like an hour. That’s insane,” said Melanie Mandell, a technology infrastructure intern. “I know that Major League Baseball does a lot of [volunteer] events. It was a really cool experience.”