The Greater Cleveland Food Bank and the Cleveland Browns have been proud partners for 25 years, dating back to 1999 when the team returned, in support of all the work they both do in the Northeast Ohio community. The Food Bank is the largest hunger relief organization in Northeast Ohio, having served over 349,000 people in Cuyahoga, Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Ashland, and Richland counties last year, and continuing to make an even bigger impact throughout 2023. As of August 2023, the Food Bank has served just over 379,000 individuals. In recognition of the growing need in the local community for the Food Bank, the Browns committed $500,000 to the organization's capital campaign earlier this year.
Prior to this latest donation, the Browns and the Food Bank have hosted numerous events together, inclusive of Browns players, coaches, ownership, staff, and fans. The Greater Cleveland Food Bank is a Browns First and Ten Community Partner, a program that encourages all in Northeast Ohio to get involved in their community and volunteer their time. The Food Bank has come out to Training Camp, Dawg Pound Drive, and countless other activations throughout the 25 years of partnership to provide Browns personnel, staff and fans alike the opportunity to give back.
One of the tentpole events of the partnership is the annual Thanksgiving at the Food Bank, which offers an opportunity for Browns players, coaches, ownership, alumni, and staff to spend a day volunteering. In 2022, the Browns helped package over 24,000 meals for children in need ahead of the holiday. The Browns are honored to be able to partner with the Food Bank to offer such an impactful opportunity for everyone in the organization.
This year also marks the 25th Anniversary of the Taste of the Browns Fundraiser to benefit the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, which was held on October 2 at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Taste of the Browns is the marquee annual fundraiser for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, raising more than $3 million since 1999. Every dollar raised helps the Food Bank provide three nutritious meals to the community.
This year's honorary event co-chairs, Cleveland Browns All-Pro Guard Joel Bitonio; Pro Football Hall of Famer and Cleveland Browns Legend Joe Thomas; and Chef Rocco Whalen of Fahrenheit, will be joined by other current Cleveland Browns players and alumni to raise awareness and funds for local Northeast Ohio families. This year's fundraiser features some of the region's finest restaurants, including Blue Point Grille, Sora, Fahrenheit, Lago East Bank, and Collision Bend Brewing Company.
In further support of the Food Bank, in 2022, the Cleveland Browns Foundation made a $500,000 contribution to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank's capital campaign. Dee and Jimmy Haslam serve as Honorary Co-Chairs of the Food Bank's campaign, with the goal of supporting the organization's expansion plans to fight hunger and provide even more resources for those in need. In 2020 alone, the Food Bank distributed 56 million pounds of food to residents of the Northeast Ohio area and doubled the number of people served.
The Browns' investment in the Food Bank has helped to build a new state of the art storage and distribution center, the Cleveland Browns Foundation Food Donation Center, which increases the capacity to receive and store food, and to produce meals. Their previous facility has been transformed into a client food choice pantry, which provides not only food, but also resources and nonprofit partners to help with onsite social services such as housing, employment, and healthcare opportunities.
"We are so thankful to the Cleveland Browns for being an early supporter of the capital campaign!" said Kristin Warzocha, President & CEO, Greater Cleveland Food Bank. "The Browns have been a longstanding partner of the Food Bank supporting us through Taste of the Browns and volunteering annually. It is support of partners like the Browns that lets us continue to meet the need for nutritious food."
The Greater Cleveland Food Bank is continuing its transformative expansion project with the renovation of the S. Waterloo Facility into a Community Resource Center. This initiative supports the ever-growing demand for food distribution and social service programs in the six counties the organization serves. Total food distribution is at an all-time high, and the Food Bank has served 33,000 more people between March and June of 2023 than the previous year. Donate to the capital campaign here.
To learn more about the Food Bank and to get involved visit their website.