As many families in our communities continue struggling to find and afford healthy meals—a systemic inequity heightened in recent months and weeks—Coaching Corps’ Oakland volunteers have stepped up to do more. With the leadership of NBA legend and dedicated Oakland community member, Antonio Davis, and our very own Director of Government and Community Engagement, Robert Marcus, a handful of community members have been distributing over 90,000 pounds of farm-fresh food across Oakland and Richmond.
With most restaurants and schools closed for months, many food suppliers find themselves with thousands of pounds of fresh produce and foodstuffs they’re unable to sell. As the government recently stepped in to start buying this surplus from suppliers, an opportunity opened for Coaching Corps to make sure it didn’t go to waste, thanks to Coaching Corps Ambassador and former NBA All-Star Antonio Davis.
Combining their vast networks and Oakland know-how with Antonio’s business connections to food suppliers, Antonio and Coaching Corps staff member Robert Marcus pulled together everything they needed to get food to families who need it most. In just a couple of days, the pair organized shipping equipment, donation sites, and a team of volunteers to help them distribute 90,720 pounds of food to sites throughout the East Bay, and they plan to deliver more.
One of those volunteers, Joshua Jones, has been working with Coaching Corps since the start of COVID-19, supporting meal distribution at Emeryville Citizens Assistance Program (ECAP). A rising sophomore at the University of Nevada, Reno, and an East Bay native, Joshua sees the work the group is doing as a way to spread love and equity through his community. “We’re a team of positivity. That’s what we want to spread and let flourish all throughout our home here in the Bay Area. The health and safety of all people is what we deem the most important and we hope that everything we do now is something that people can see and spread to others.”
This feeling of hope and teamwork is no coincidence. All the men in the group pulled from their time on the basketball court. “Even though we haven’t been able to play in our gyms, all of the same energy, strength, speed, communication, and teamwork that’s needed on the court is what’s needed when we’re out here delivering,” Joshua says.
The group includes men as young as 18 years old to men in their 50s. This mix is what it’s all about, Antonio says. “It’s important for us to understand the domino effect of being a Black man in my 50s reaching young men. … It’s all about building the community and it’s inspiring to see these young men so passionate about giving back, and giving them an opportunity to do that is amazing.”
With the portion of the distributions they’ve received, the City of Oakland has set up pop-up farmers’ markets at parks and recreation sites in communities deeply affected by COVID-19. The group turns over their entire supply to residents in less than 40 minutes with each distribution. Other sites that have received deliveries include Loaves and Fishes and ECAP in West Oakland and Booker T. Community Center in Richmond, each redistributing the food to thousands of families every day.
Antonio and Robert hope a continuous flow of food, volunteers, and equipment will enable the group to continue their operation for the remainder of the summer—another six to eight weeks—with another redistribution planned this week for a 35,000-pound shipment.
If you want to get involved and volunteer your time or donate moving materials, such as trucks and dollies, contact Robert Marcus, firstname.lastname@example.org.