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Sara’s Diary: Day 31 without baseball


The Washington Nationals are in partnership with Chef José Andrés World Central Kitchen to utilize Nationals Park as a cooking/distribution site for thousands of free meals. The free meals will be distributed using World Central Kitchen and Nationals Phi
A World Central Kitchen worker unloads meals at Nationals Park
Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images

It’s Easter Sunday and while that is a religious day for many, it is also a day of communal meals and celebrations beyond religious communities. It’s a day I personally associate with lazy brunches after mass and ham dinners that the women in my family worked on most of the afternoon. In the age of coronavirus and social distancing those celebrations will be substantially pared back to non-existent for many.

However, today as I zigged and zagged around Wrigleyville to get my walk in on a relatively beautiful day in mid-April my mind turned to all of the people who are suddenly food insecure on a day generally epitomized by feasts with friends and family. Scenes like this one outside of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida in Orlando are becoming commonplace during the pandemic:

Orlando Food Bank Provides Assistance During Coronavirus Pandemic
Cars line up in Orlando where there is record demand for food assistance
Photo by Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The nation’s pastime is stepping in to help where it can. The reigning World Series Champion Washington Nationals have teamed up with Chef José Andrés to allow his non-profit World Central Kitchen access to the ballpark’s facilities where they are preparing thousands of meals for the food insecure in our nation’s capital according to Eater:

Two large kitchens at the park will be used to prepare hot meals that will be delivered to communities by Uber Eats drivers. One facility is typically reserved for suites, catering, and concessions. The other, PNC Diamond Club kitchen, normally makes food for big-ticket fans. It’s outfitted with six-burner ranges and all the culinary bells and whistles.

Nationals Philanthropies will work with its community partners to get dinners to public housing in the Navy Yard and Southwest Waterfront neighborhoods as well as the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in Fort Dupont. The recipient list is expected to grow with the help of Southwest BID, along with people in underserved Ward 7 and Ward 8, and homeless populations from around the city.

“We are stewards of this public building — it’s not used to play baseball now, so how can we use it in the best way possible?” says Jonathan Stahl, vice president of experience and hospitality for the Nationals.

The first 1,000 meals go out today. By the end of the week, production is expected to ramp up to 5,000 meals a day. Eventually, the operation at Nationals Park aims to dish out tens of thousands of meals each day.

Chef José Andrés Sets Up Community Kitchen At Nats Park During COVID-19 Pandemic
Boxes of food are delivered to Nationals Park on April 8
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

While Americans have been hard hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, the food insecurity problem is even more dire in some other countries. These scenes from India where a nationwide lockdown has devastated food supply chains are particularly striking:

Government And NGOs Provide Food To Homeless And Poor Amid Lockdown To Prevent Covid-19
People line up to collect meals being distributed in New Delhi on April 12
Photo by Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

It’s a stark juxtaposition on a day that is generally typified by celebrations and an abundance of food. Consider supporting these efforts if you have the ability to donate to one of the organizations helping to feed people in this time of crisis.