Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Gerardo Parra, D-Backs staff and UnitedHealthcare employees today are kicking off their joint "Pack the House" initiative, which will provide 49,000 meals for children in need - one meal for each seat at Chase Field. The two-time Gold Glove winner and volunteers will pack food to support Kitchen on the Street's Bags of Hope program, which is aimed at fighting childhood hunger.
Thousands of children receive reduced-price meals during the school week but do not get enough nourishment over the weekend. Bags of Hope provides nutritious, kid-friendly meals and snacks, which include fruit snacks, pretzels and fruit cups. The Bags are given to underserved children who do not have access to school lunch programs during the weekend.
This is the first in a series of three volunteer projects planned to meet the goal of packing 49,000 meals. Other volunteer projects are planned for May 14 and Aug. 27.
"We are grateful to continue to partner with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Kitchen on the Street to help build a healthier community and provide Phoenix-area children access to nutritious food," said Jeri Jones, west region president, UnitedHealthcare Community & State.
According to the Trust for America's Health, nearly one in five children in Arizona ages 10 to 17 are considered obese. There is a direct correlation between obesity and hunger due to the limited availability of healthy food options. Households with limited resources often try to stretch their food budgets by purchasing inexpensive, energy-dense and filling foods.
"Helping to solve hunger issues in the Valley is something that is very important to the Arizona Diamondbacks organization," said Derrick Hall, president and CEO, Arizona Diamondbacks. "We are proud to partner with past Grand Slam Award recipient Kitchen on the Street and UnitedHealthcare to help fight childhood hunger."
This project is the latest in UnitedHealthcare's "Do Good. Live Well." employee volunteer initiative, whose mission is to prevent hunger and obesity, inspire service and encourage volunteerism in communities where UnitedHealthcare employees live and work. The D-backs and Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation have surpassed $37 million in combined donations since their inception in 1998, and this season the D-backs have already raised $200,000 from their 50-50 Raffle as well as a record $1.9 million at Evening on the Diamond earlier this year.
For more information about the benefits of volunteering and to find local opportunities to get involved, visit www.DoGoodLiveWell.org. Follow @DoGoodLiveWell on Twitter or "like" Do Good. Live Well. on Facebook.
About Kitchen on the Street
Kitchen on the Street began serving the community in 2007 when the Scarpinato family learned about the prevalence of food insecurity in local Arizona children. Hearing that thousands of children that received breakfast and lunch at school but were going hungry on weekends compelled Vince, Lisa and Taylor Scarpinato to found Kitchen on the Street as a means of bringing food and hope to children in need. In 2007 Kitchen on the Street was limited to one program to serve the hungry children of Phoenix, a food backpack program providing shelf stable meals and snacks to food insecure children. As a volunteer driven faith based non-profit organization, KOS relies on the community to meet the needs of the hungry and hurting. Thanks to the generosity of individuals, business owners and corporations in providing faithful volunteers and provisional funding, various programs are available throughout Arizona and in 2011 the Bags of Hope program began in San Antonio, Texas.
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 800,000 physicians and care professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. Globally, UnitedHealthcare serves more than 45 million people in health benefits and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.