Saints LB Jonathan Casillas and ambassador Michael Lewis attended an event hosted by the Taste of the NFL at the NFL Youth Education Town (NFL YET) center in New Orleans on Tuesday.
Taste of the NFL is a league program that was founded by Wayne Kostroski 22-years ago in Minneapolis, MN. Taste of the NFL hosts events each season in the Super Bowl host city. NFL YET is a recreation center that provides after-school activities and is operated by the Boys and Girls Club of America.
Chef Tory McPhail of Commander's Palace in New Orleans created a special menu and more than 100 children were fed a hot meal at NFL YET Tuesday. Children were able to spend time and play with the Saints linebacker. Casillas and Lewis posed for photos and signed autographs while spending the afternoon with the children. Each student also received a gift bag from the Taste of the NFL that included a football, snacks, pencils, stickers and other fun items.
Taste of the NFL's largest event is the Super Bowl "Party with a Purpose" and will be held on February 2nd in New Orleans this year, the night before Super Bowl XLVII. The Super Bowl "Party with a Purpose" event pairs a chef from each market with a current or former player from each. 100% of the proceeds go to benefit local food banks in NFL cities with a larger share going to the host site's organization.
As the Super Bowl host city, New Orleans' Second Harvest Food Bank New Orleans and Acadiana will receive 30% of the money raised from the event.
Second Harvest Food Bank Greater New Orleans and Acadiana focuses on food distribution, education and disaster response in an area spanning all 23 south Louisiana parishes, covering the entire coast from Mississippi to Texas, through 240 non-profit and faith-based organizations.
So far, $12 million has been donated to food banks in NFL cities through the fundraiser on behalf of Taste of the NFL. More information about "Party with a Purpose" can be found at TasteoftheNFL.com.
"I am so glad to see that the NFL believes in this and continues to host the event," said Casillas. "I am glad it's here, New Orleans needs it, and I am glad to be a part of it. This is a great event put on by good people."
A team of local chefs are also hosting a series of nine dinners throughout the season to raise awareness of the issues. All proceeds from these dinners will benefit Second Harvest as well.
"At Second Harvest, we are so blessed, amazed and excited about these events leading up to the Super Bowl," said Natalie A. Jayroe, President and Chief Executive Officer of Second Harvest Food Bank. "It's been a tough time for some families in south Louisiana and this will make an incredible difference."
The Taste of the NFL is also responsible for the Kick Hunger Challenge. Fans of each NFL team can make donations online throughout the season for their respective team. A running tally will be kept of which team's fan base donates the most money. 100% of the donation goes to support a local food bank and each dollar donated can provide seven meals for those struggling with food insecurity.
Fans can donate at KickHungerChallenge.com with the winner being announced the week of Super Bowl XLVII.
"We want to raise awareness and dollars for hunger," said Kostroski. "Whatever you can do to help a neighbor, whether you can see them or not, it's going to be a big deal so do it."