Pro Football Hall of Fame partners with Project Isaiah food relief program

A member of the Michigan National Guard helps to sort food for distribution in Detroit on Friday as part of the Project Isaiah relief effort bringing thousands of prepackaged meals to corona-virus-positive residents in the city. (Project Isaiah via AP)

CANTON, Ohio (AP) — When David Baker heard about Project Isaiah and its goal of feeding families in need during the coronavirus pandemic, there was no question what the Pro Football Hall of Fame would do.

“Once we learned the details behind Project Isaiah, it was an easy decision to say ‘yes’ enthusiastically and join as a partner,” said Baker, the president and CEO of the hall. “The mission, values and vision at the heart of Project Isaiah and at Gate Gourmet align wonderfully with those of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”

Immediately, some hall inductees got involved, led by wide receiver Cris Carter, who grew up often going hungry in Dayton, Ohio, with six siblings and one parent.

“I needed food when there wasn’t no pandemic,” Carter, who played 15 seasons in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins, told the Hall of Fame. “This would have destroyed my family.”

Carter recognized that having the hall’s living members — “Gold Jackets” — help the airline catering company Gate Gourmet on the food relief program was a natural.

“We’re going to try to raise some resources for these people and to raise some awareness,” said Carter, who asked other Gold Jackets to donate at least $100 to the cause.

“Being a Hall of Famer, it’s about being a leader on and off the field,” he said. “Our commitment, our values, our integrity, the courage we had to play at the highest level — we’re just trying to show that to people right now who just need people to believe in them.

“We’re just Gold Jackets trying to do good stuff.”

Other Hall of Famers getting involved include Dave Casper, Larry Little, Fran Tarkenton and Rickey Jackson.

Launched in April, Project Isaiah has provided more than 1 million boxed meals to families in 11 cities: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington. All of those are NFL cities, as well.

Project Isaiah began as a Go Fund Me initiative. Gate Gourmet, a leading provider of airline food, prepares the meals, which cost about $5 per box.

In Detroit, the city’s health department delivered the meals directly to COVID-positive patients on public assistance. The city feared that neighborhood soup kitchens were allowing COVID-19 to spread.