Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Post

Jane Newton, Athens County Food Pantry employee, shows the selection of food available at the food pantry on Jan. 21, 2022. In the wire cart are recent vegetable donations from Community Food Initiatives, a non-profit organization based in Athens, Ohio, and in front of those are selection items and prepackaged meal bags.

Joe Burrow Hunger Relief Fund grows to over $1.6 million during Bengals' playoff run

The Joe Burrow Hunger Relief Fund grew from around $1.3 million to over $1.6 million from increased donations around the country inspired by Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals’ playoff run. 

The relief fund was created after Burrow’s Heisman speech in 2019 inspired people from around the country to donate to the Athens County Food Pantry, or ACFP.

In total, ACFP received $350,000 in donations following Burrow’s acceptance speech. The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, of which ACFP is a part, matched the thousands of donations dollar for dollar. That match gave the food pantry an initial investment of $700,000 to create an endowment fund.

2019 data from Feeding America found 18.9% of Athens County residents experience food insecurity. That is noticeably higher than Ohio’s 13.2% average.

The spotlight on Burrow and the Bengals during the NFL playoffs raised awareness for the relief fund, which had already grown to around $1.3 million.

The team’s playoff run inspired places like Passion Works Studio, an Athens-based collaborative community arts center, to support Burrow’s cause. To celebrate the Super Bowl, Passion Works hung orange tiger lily flower drawings on Court Street with the number nine on them. 

On Feb. 14, the day after the Super Bowl, Passion Works sold the drawings for any donation to the studio. For each sale, the studio donated $9 to the Burrow Fund. Anna Villavicencio, head of production at Passion Works, said that was the first time Passion Works has donated to ACFP. Villavicencio said the studio had made 62 sales by the time they arrived at the store Monday, mostly from pre-purchase calls.

Passion Works is also selling 3D tiger lily flowers for $109, with $9 of those purchases going to the Burrow fund.

Adrian Goodman, a 12-year-old football player at Jackson Middle School in nearby Jackson County, helped raise $1,000 for the Burrow fund. DeAnna Meynard Goodman, Adrian’s mother, is the owner and CEO of FabD Boutique, an online boutique specializing in plus-sized women’s clothes.

Adrian Goodman created and helped sell mystery goodie bags with FabD products on the company’s livestream its hosts. Each bag sold for $40, and $20 of each sale was donated to the Burrow fund. 

“He loves football, he loves the Bengals and he loves Joe Burrow,” Shane Goodman, Adrian’s father and operations manager at FabD, said.

Karin Bright, president of ACFP, said the pantry has seen national support since Burrow’s Heisman speech, especially from Louisiana, where Burrow attended college.

“If they’re not rooting for the Saints, they’re rooting for the Bengals,” Bright said.

Bright said endowment funds are important for nonprofits to act as a long-term sustainable investment. It allows them to worry about where to put money instead of about how to get money, she said. 

The original investment from the Heisman speech also allowed the food pantry to switch from a first-come-first-serve model to a never-out model.

“If we start to run low of packed boxes and bags, our packing crew comes back in, and we'll pack more, so that if somebody comes to the pantry from Monday through Friday, 10 (a.m.) to 3 (p.m.), we will have food for them,” Bright said. “That's huge.”

Bright said because of the substantial changes in people’s needs in the food bank, ACFP is not sure what it will do with the money that will come in next year. Bright said this can go beyond providing food such as providing supplies like laundry detergent and cleaning supplies.

“We are sending out our grateful thanks to everyone who has donated to either the food pantry or to the fund and that they are part of this very exciting adventure that we're embarking on,” Bright said. “We appreciate everything Joe did with his speech. We appreciate the support that he has given to us.”


Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2016-2022 The Post, Athens OH