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Thanksgiving with the Food Bank

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Browns and Sugardale volunteers team up to package meals at Greater Cleveland Food Bank ahead of Thanksgiving holiday 

3,840 backpack meals were packed for local kids on Tuesday 

Thanksgiving at food bank

For the Browns rookie class, the Browns Give Back holiday meal packing event at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank was their introduction to a tradition now spanning over a decade.

On Tuesday, Nov. 21, Browns players, alumni and staff, as well as members of Stripes United— composed of coaches' and players' significant others— and Sugardale representatives gathered to help volunteers prepare for holiday season at the food bank, where thousands of meals will be donated to people in need for Thanksgiving and the weeks leading up to Christmas. The Browns have partnered with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank to package and distribute food before Thanksgiving since 2006, making this the 18th year of the collaboration.

After arriving, all hands were on deck as rookies like T Dawand Jones, CB Cameron Mitchell, WR Cedric Tillman, S Ronnie Hickman, LB Charlie Thomas III and DT Siaki Ika, who were joined by veteran C Ethan Pocic. They separated into groups at the loading dock to load trucks for the food bank's distribution partners. They also worked to move 7,000 pounds of turkey, ham, bacon, potatoes, grapes, cauliflower and more.

"For us to come out here as a team and provide that help felt good," rookie CB Kahlef Hailassie said."It's really important to help out around the holidays because there are a lot of families that are in need. We were just happy to be here to help the community."

On the other side of the facility, tens of thousands of meals and food items were bagged and readied by volunteers for transport to local shelters, food pantries and food sites throughout Northeast Ohio. In total, 3,840 backpacks for kids were packaged from 16 pallets with 720 cases of product. The Browns, Sugardale and Stripes United had 90 volunteers assist in the efforts.

"This has become part of the food bank's holiday tradition," Greater Cleveland Food Bank President and CEO Kristin Warzocha said. "Every year we get a great crew of players and Browns staff and we're so grateful to have the help at a busy time. Our partnership with the Browns, not just at Thanksgiving, but all year long, absolutely means the world to us. They make hundreds of thousands of meals possible every year."

Thanksgiving at the Food Bank on November 21, 2023 at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank in Cleveland, Ohio presented by Sugardale.

"Thanksgiving is a holiday that seems to revolve around food. I'm so grateful to have the help of our entire community so that we can try to ensure that everyone in our community who needs a nutritious meal can have one this Thanksgiving," Warzocha added.

To further support the food bank, Sugardale – the presenting partner of the event – provided $13,000 worth of food to the organization to help provide over 24,000 meals to members of the community.

"We are excited to team up with the Browns to present Thanksgiving at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank to help replenish critical food resources for our neighbors this holiday season," Sugardale Vice President of Marketing and Retail Sales Rob Hite said.

The meal packing event is one of many jointly hosted events by the Browns and Greater Cleveland Food Bank – a First and Ten community partner – as they team up to help fight hunger and ensure families have access to nutritious meals throughout the year, particularly during high times of need like the winter holidays. It was held in the food bank's expanded distribution center, which was opened in 2022 with an investment from the Browns organization.

Each year, the Browns and Greater Cleveland Food Bank also partner for Taste of the Browns, which features Cleveland's top chefs and raises money and awareness to combat hunger in the local community. This past October, Taste of the Browns was co-chaired by All-Pro G Joel Bitonio, Browns Hall of Fame inductee Joe Thomas and Chef Rocco Whalen of Fahrenheit and hosted at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

To learn more about the Food Bank and to get involved visit their website.