Curtis Granderson, who this week was presented with the Marvin Miller Man of the Year by his peers as part of the 25th annual Players Choice Awards, had no sooner left the MLB Network studio from which the awards show was broadcast before returning to his mission of ending food insecurity in impoverished neighborhoods.
It was the middle of November, after all, and his month-long Grand Giving hunger relief campaign was in full swing in his hometown of Chicago and his adopted home of New York City. He had people to see and hungry kids to feed.
Grand Giving, in its third year, has become an increasingly important component in the array of charitable programs the veteran baseball star administers through the Grand Kids Foundation he began nine years ago.
The three-time All-Star initially established the charity to provide educational and athletic opportunities for inner-city kids, but he noticed over time that a common thread among the kids who gravitated to his programs was that many of them weren’t being adequately nourished.
The seed that started the Grand Giving initiative was when a kid attending Granderson’s after-school baseball program shared that he would not eat again until breakfast the next day. From that seed has sprung an annual month-long campaign to raise funds to provide daily meals to people living in food deserts – those inner-city areas where there are convenience stores and liquor stores but few grocery stores.
This year, Granderson who was also given MLB’s annual Roberto Clemente Award last month in recognition of his efforts in the community, added a Grand Giving fundraiser in New York (Nov. 15) to his annual Chicago fundraiser (Nov. 17), so he was preparing for those events when he traveled to MLB Network for the Players Choice Awards.
“During the Thanksgiving holiday everyone is looking forward to spending time with their friends and family, but there are a lot of places where people don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” Granderson said. “We have food insecure areas, so with the Grand Giving fundraisers we’re hoping to raise over a million meals between Chicago and New York.”
Grand Giving takes a strategic, multifaceted approach to provide meals and build capacity in the neediest communities. In Chicago and New York, about one in five children are at risk of hunger and more than a third of people who receive meals from food banks are kids.
Money is raised for the meals through donation opportunities including the “Check Out to Help Out” program, in which consumers are asked to donate, and a celebrity fundraiser called Night of Grand Giving. The “Check Out to Help Out” program itself has been able to purchase nearly 1 million meals for the hungry.
“These are basic necessities,” Granderson said. “We put food in our stomach, that gets our minds ready to go, gives us a chance to be active, gives us a chance to focus in the classroom.”