Paint splatter accent Nationals named finalist for prestigious Selig Award

December 22, 2020

The Nationals were recently named a finalist for Major League Baseball’s prestigious Allan H. Selig Award for Philanthropic Excellence. Close collaboration between Washington Nationals Philanthropies and the Washington Nationals Baseball Club activated facilities, funds, and community-based partners as civic resources for area residents facing food insecurity as a result of COVID-19, delivering sustained support for a community in need.

The Backstory: Focus on Food Access

Prior to the pandemic, an estimated 415,000 Washington, D.C., area residents faced food insecurity – defined as not knowing from where the next meal will come. Washington Nationals Philanthropies has long focused on increasing food access in the region. Grants to local nonprofits, as well as nightly meal distribution and a subsidized produce program at its Youth Baseball Academy, help alleviate challenges for vulnerable populations and those living near the Academy – a food desert with a ratio of one grocery store for 30,000 residents. During the government shutdown in 2019, when many residents faced unexpected hardship, Nationals Philanthropies went to bat, helping Capital Area Food Bank cover its funding gap due to increased demand.

Then came COVID-19. By late March, as the peril to the community became clear, Nationals Philanthropies listened to residents and sought the advice of nonprofit leaders to understand where it could do the most good. The message was clear: a surge in unemployment would lead to widespread economic uncertainty, and food insecurity in the region could increase significantly. In addition, regular channels for food distribution would close, limiting access points for the people who need it most.

Nationals Philanthropies was poised to step up to the plate.

Virtual Ring Ceremony
This gives so much credibility to what a sports team can be for a city. And for that, forever they will be champions.
Chef Jose Andres

The Result: Over a Million Meals

From April through October, an investment of over $1.12 million resulted in the equivalent of 1.36 million meals delivered to residents across the greater Washington region – representing the collective power of #NATS4GOOD.

NATS4GOOD Community Response Fund – More than $575,000 in contributions were made to the NATS4GOOD Community Response Fund from thousands of donors including Nationals players, corporate partners, and fans. From the Fund, grants were disbursed to eight community-based organizations exclusively focused on food access (full list found here). These grants provided an equivalent of 442,150 meals through various meal delivery and grocery access programs.

World Central Kitchen – More than 903,000 hot meals were served out of Nationals Park between April and September, demonstrating the power of Nationals Park as a civic resource. As many as 60 volunteers daily prepared meals – including Nationals employees, fans, and community members. In case you missed it, take a look back at the food preparation and distribution efforts at Nationals Park in partnership with World Central Kitchen – the first and longest running major sports venue to be used for this purpose during the pandemic.

Nationals Youth Baseball Academy – More than 21,000 ‘Grab and Go’ meals have been given out at the Ward 7 facility this year. Additionally, over 2,000 produce bags have been distributed as part of the weekly farmers market, addressing a 210% increase in demand during the same period last year.

While not the victory lap expected in the year following an improbable World Series win, it will perhaps be more memorable as a reflection of the championship spirt of the Nationals organization. In the words of Chef Jose Andres, “This gives so much credibility to what a sports team can be for a city. And for that, forever they will be champions.”

Congratulations to our friends at the Toronto Blue Jays and Jays Care Foundation for winning the 2020 honor in recognition of remarkable efforts for under-resourced Canadian families disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nationals named finalist for prestigious Selig Award
Reflections on Election Day from Nationals Park 7
Thanksgiving Meal Distribution at the Youth Baseball Academy