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.