The place normally home to the Blue Jays is soon to be home to 10 million pounds of food instead, as Rogers and Jays Care Foundation support Food Banks Canada with “Step Up to the Plate.”
The new initiative will see Rogers Centre house 6,000 pallets of food that will be sorted into food hampers on the field and delivered across the country to families in need, in order to help battle food donation shortages and significant drops in volunteers.
Each hamper will be filled with a variety of non-perishable food items, providing one individual with a week’s worth of food. The goal is to fill 390,000 hampers, reaching a total of eight million meals.
“At Rogers, we consider all Canadians to be part of our extended family and we believe we have a responsibility to give back and help our family members in need,” said Melinda Rogers-Hixon, deputy chairman of the board at Rogers Communications, in a release.
“With Rogers Centre vacant until baseball returns, we have an exciting opportunity to open our pantry of assets and offer a much-needed resource for Food Banks Canada.”
Hundreds of Rogers employees and their families will be volunteering to stuff the food hampers as part of Rogers’s annual “Give Together” volunteer program. Additionally, hundreds more employees across the country will volunteer as the food hampers make their way to food banks across Canada.
The company will also be tapping its mobile retail team to help with deliveries on the ground.
“We have a strong tradition of community service at Rogers, and our 25,000 strong team members across the country are here to give together and give back to Canadians when they need it most,” said Joe Natale, Rogers Communications’ president and CEO.
“Along with our employees, customers, and fans, we have already contributed more than 2 million meals to Food Banks Canada through COVID-19 and we are excited to roll up our sleeves to help fill more plates for Canadians relying on these donations.”
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Step Up to the Plate is an extension of the initiative Rogers began in March, in which the company launched a national awareness and fundraising campaign for Food Banks Canada through its media assets. This year marks the 36th in a row that the Blue Jays have supported the charitable food organization.
“With millions unemployed and businesses closing every day, we are grateful to Rogers and Jays Care Foundation for stepping in – and up – to make this help possible at Rogers Centre,” said Chris Hatch, Food Banks Canada CEO.
Robert Witchel, executive director of Jays Care, said that the organization works to “level the playing field” for more than 35,000 vulnerable children and youth each year, with many of their programs providing nutritious meals to kids across Canada.
“COVID-19 has had a disproportionately harsh impact on Canadians who were already facing hardships. In response, we doubled down on our efforts to address food insecurity in communities and, together with our partners and fans, have contributed more than 1.5 million meals,” Witchel said.
“We’re excited to join Rogers and leverage our ballpark to provide even more meals to Canadians in need.”
Rogers consulted Toronto Public Health to ensure all necessary precautions are taken for the health and safety of the volunteers and all those involved in the program.
Those wishing to contribute a donation can do so here.