Food insecurity is a major issue facing Americans across the nation, including Georgia, where nearly one in eight residents struggles to find adequate nourishment, according to the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Now, the Atlanta Hawks, in conjunction with State Farm, are taking action.
The largest service initiative in the franchise’s history, the Million Meal Pack event, will take place for the second time on Saturday, July 16, at State Farm Arena. Thousands of volunteers will prepare one million meals, comprised of a nutritious, shelf-stable, dried jambalaya mix that produces six servings, to be distributed throughout the Greater Atlanta area. The inaugural Million Meal Pack event, held in 2019, was a smashing success, with over one million meals prepared.
Three years later, the success of the mission hinges on sufficient manpower. In order to once again meet their ambitious goal, the Hawks are seeking at least 5,000 volunteers to register for the event. As a sign of their gratitude for those who come out in support of the Atlanta community on July 16, the Hawks are providing each person who completes a full 90-minute meal-packing volunteer shift with a free t-shirt and a voucher for a complimentary pair of tickets to a Hawks home game next season. (The particular game dates will be announced when the schedule is released later this summer.)
“The partnership between the Hawks and State Farm is rooted in a commitment to improving our community,” said Steve Koonin, CEO of the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena, in the team’s official press release. “Addressing someone’s most basic human need for a nutritious meal will help improve so many Atlanta residents’ quality of life. We are urging the entire city to come together and help pack one million meals to help address this crucial need.”
Volunteering will primarily consist of standing over assembly-line tables while pouring and mixing the jambalaya ingredients — red lentils, long grain white rice, dehydrated vegetables and pink salt — and then sealing the bags. Each 90-minute shift will consist of approximately 700-900 volunteers manning rows of tables that line State Farm Arena. If all goes according to plan, over a million meals of the New Orleans classic — shelf-stable for two years — will be ready for distribution by local organizations come sundown on July 16.
Those who volunteer — including those from schools, churches, synagogues, fraternal organizations and small businesses — can look forward to live music, street performances and appearances by local celebrities and Hawks players. (In 2019, among the thousands of volunteers, were former NBA All-Star Vince Carter and the late civil rights icon John Lewis, along with Hawks stars Trae Young and John Collins.)
Following the volunteer shift, participants can partake in a festival on State Farm Drive that will feature games, food and cool summertime tunes — something that has not been feasible these past few summers due to COVID restrictions.
“We are extremely proud to come together again with State Farm to provide nutritious meals for our neighbors in need through Million Meal Pack,” said Andrea Carter, vice president of corporate social responsibility for the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena.
“On July 16, many will come together to make a difference in the lives of those without reliable access to affordable, nutritious food. We encourage everyone to share the link with their networks and join us.”
In today’s economic climate, with gas prices and rent only getting more expensive, skyrocketing food prices preclude many from being able to provide nourishing meals for their families. In Georgia, for example, nearly one in six children is living with food insecurity, according to the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Since 2000, the number of high-poverty neighborhoods in metro Atlanta has tripled. In light of these dire statistics, this summer’s Million Meal Pack event takes on heightened significance.
“Giving back and strengthening communities are deeply embedded in State Farm’s culture,” said Dan Krause, State Farm’s senior vice president for the southeastern market area. “As we celebrate our organization’s 100th anniversary, we look forward to once again joining our local State Farm agents, employees, the Atlanta Hawks and the Atlanta community in the fight to reduce food insecurity in this incredible city.”
For more information and to register for the Hawks and State Farm’s Million Meal Pack, please visit Hawks.com/mealpack.
- David Ostrowsky
- Food Insecurity
- Food Bank
- Atlanta Community Food Bank
- Million Meal Pack
- Atlanta Hawks
- State Farm Arena
- steve koonin
- red lentils
- long grain white rice
- dehydrated vegetables
- pink salt
- Vince Carter
- John Lewis
- All Star Game
- Dan Krause
- Trae Young
- John Collins