MIAMI — Just over a year ago, the Marlins and the Miami Marlins Foundation began their Home Plate Meals Relief Fund to give back to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. During Wednesday afternoon’s drive-thru food distribution, CEO Derek Jeter helped distribute the one millionth meal outside of loanDepot park. It’s a number the organization never could’ve imagined when the initiative was launched on April 2.
“I didn’t,” Jeter said. “I was just talking about that coming down here, and just goes to show you how long this pandemic’s lasted. When we shut down Spring Training last March, we didn’t know how long this was going to be, and here we are over a year later and we’re still in the same position. Hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel and we can all put this — I don’t even know if it’s fair to say put it behind you — because it’s something that’s going to affect people for a very, very long time. It is hard to believe we’re giving out our millionth meal.”
Raquel “Rocky” Egusquiza, the Foundation’s executive director, other members of the front-office staff and Billy The Marlin also were on hand to provide 500 households with food boxes in partnership with Feeding South Florida. Items included proteins, starch and fruit.
The outreach has extended from the ballpark to neighboring communities, with a focus on addressing the following needs: food security, educational support, COVID-19 testing and PPE, and financial support and resources. Aside from the one million meals, the Marlins have also distributed 24,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and 20,000 face coverings across South Florida. loanDepot park also serves as a COVID-19 vaccination and testing site.
“It is important,” Jeter said. “Let me be straight with you and say: We’re not doing this because we have to do it. We’re doing this because it’s the right thing to do. You should give back to the community when you’re in this position, and obviously being a professional sports franchise here in South Florida, we have an opportunity to use our platform to impact people’s lives in a positive manner, which we have done up to this point and we’ll continue to do. Like I said, it’s the right thing to do.”