Nationals Philanthropies to honor Chef José Andrés at Home Plate Celebration event

Washington Nationals Philanthropies, the official charitable arm of the Washington Nationals, announced today plans to hold a signature fundraising event this fall in lieu of its traditional gala. The Nationals Home Plate Celebration, to be held on September 27 at Nationals Park, will uniquely showcase the cornerstone elements of the organization’s holistic food access program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the team is on the road, the Home Plate Celebration event invites supporters to the ballpark to experience the Nationals Park operation that provided meals last year to area residents in need by showcasing a series of outdoor activations, including samples of dishes prepared at the ballpark by World Central Kitchen, fresh produce from the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy farmers market, and profiles of food access partners. More details about the event will be released in the coming weeks at nats4good.org/events.

“For over a decade, our fans and supporters have joined big league players for a celebratory gala to raise critical funds to fuel the community impact work of Nationals Philanthropies. The changes of this past year require a fresh approach,” said Tal Alter, CEO of Nationals Philanthropies. “During a crisis of unprecedented length and magnitude, every part of the Nationals organization pivoted to serve as a civic resource for area residents facing food insecurity as a result of COVID-19, delivering sustained support for a community in need. It only makes sense to come together to recognize the efforts that required true partnership in order to succeed.”

As part of the event, the Nationals will give the Power of Baseball Award, presented by JPMorgan Chase, to World Central Kitchen in recognition of its incredible contributions to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Power of Baseball Award, which will be accepted by World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés, annually recognizes an individual, corporation, organization, or local group that embodies the positive character and level of achievement exemplified throughout the game of baseball. Recipients are true ambassadors of what it means to be #Nats4Good and continue to be exemplary stewards of a commitment to community.

Though the ballpark was unable to host fans last year, Nationals Park played the role of civic asset by opening its commercial kitchens to serve the community during the height of the pandemic. World Central Kitchen established a partnership with the Nationals that transformed the ballpark into a cooking and packaging site for hot, prepared meals - becoming the first and longest-running major sports venue to be used for this purpose during the pandemic. With support from volunteers, including dozens of Nationals employees, hot meals were distributed across the region, with particular emphasis on the underserved neighborhoods surrounding the ballpark and the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy. At scale, the operation produced 15,000 meals a day and delivered more than 903,000 meals in total.

“JPMorgan Chase is committed to breaking down barriers to opportunity for residents in the communities we serve, particularly in Wards 7 and 8. The powerful partnership between the Nationals and World Central Kitchen to feed those in need during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic is an example of how the intersection of sports, business, and philanthropy can deliver a powerful impact,” said Alexis Bataillon, Head of Market Strategy and Managing Director, Corporate Responsibility at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and a Nationals Philanthropies Board of Directors member. “We are proud to stand alongside the Nationals to present the Power of Baseball Award to José Andrés on behalf of World Central Kitchen.”

Past recipients of the Power of Baseball Award include:

* 2020 - Dave Martinez, Washington Nationals Manager
* 2019 - Inaugural Graduating Class, Nationals Youth Baseball Academy Scholar Athletes
* 2018 - JMS Little League All-Star Team, D.C. Little League Championship Finalist
* 2017 - Ross Eisenman, Nationals Youth Baseball Academy Mentor

On June 15, the Nationals thanked World Central Kitchen staff and volunteers that helped prepare and distribute meals during the pandemic by celebrating World Central Kitchen Day at the ballpark. The celebration was kicked off by José Andrés throwing out the ceremonial first pitch to open the game. Nationals Philanthropies raised over $6,300 for World Central Kitchen through its in-park 5050 Raffle, and the Nationals also announced a new bobblehead featuring the chef, available now for purchase with a portion of proceeds benefiting World Central Kitchen.