The Eagles dropped by Strawberry Mansion High School on Community Monday to help revitalize the school's community garden and promote healthy eating. Saturday, the Eagles' second annual online Healthy Food Drive.
Horticulture serves as an invaluable source of high-quality food and plant cultivation for the local community. In 2013, more than 50,000 pounds of food were produced through the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s City Harvest program, raising fresh produce for 1,200 families in need each week.
On Monday, the Eagles used their day off to travel to Strawberry Mansion High School and revitalize its community garden with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, a 2014 Eagles Care partner. Alongside the school's first-year football team and culinary students, Eagles players planted fruit trees and flower bulbs, and harvested vegetables and fresh fruits in the community garden along Ridge Avenue.
All of the harvested products will then be used as part of its culinary program. Following the garden revitalization, the school's culinary students put on a cooking demonstration for the Eagles. They showed the players not only the importance of healthy eating, but the skills and recipes needed in order to cook a healthy lifestyle. The students prepared everything from kale chips to fresh basil dip.
The linebacking corps predominantly represented the Eagles at the event as Emmanuel Acho, Connor Barwin, Najee Goode, Brandon Graham, Travis Long, Casey Matthews and Marcus Smith II were joined by quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and G.J. Kinne. The players all participated in the planting and the cooking lesson.
One main goal of this event was to kick off the second annual Philadelphia Eagles Healthy Food Drive, which began Saturday and will run through the end of November. The campaign will benefit the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger’s Green Light Pantry program.
Food pantries offer invaluable support, but often, the food they provide is high in calories and low in nutritional value. The online food drive will enable participants to select fresh fruit as well as fresh vegetables.
The Green Light Pantry is a pilot program created by the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger focused on promoting healthy eating while helping families put food on the table. Families who are clients of the Green Light Pantry receive free health screenings and assistance in applying for food stamps, school meals and other programs that can help their families afford to make healthier food choices.
"My family really tried to eat fairly healthy growing up, but there was never really an emphasis on it," Barwin stated. "Now, it's really great to see that the kids are being taught these cooking techniques to accompany the healthy growing and harvesting of the fruits and vegetables.
"It's special that it's being emphasized at schools and especially at Strawberry Mansion," he added. "And it's really great to see this place grow since I visited here in the offseason."
Living a green and healthy lifestyle is familiar to the Eagles. It is evident when driving by Lincoln Financial Field and seeing the wind turbines and solar panels on the stadium. This lifestyle is what really made PHS president Drew Becher happy about partnering with the Eagles.
"It's so great when you have two organizations with two completely different missions, but they are actually thinking in the same way, such as being green," Becher said. "Both organizations live it and want it to be an integral part of what they do, and that's just great."
In talking about the relationship with PHS, Barwin added that "it's just an absolute perfect marriage for what the Eagles stand for. It's even really great for what Chip Kelly stands for with eating healthy and in the terms of sports science. With that being said, it's a great match to being here and partnering up with PHS and Strawberry Mansion."
As for the Strawberry Mansion Culinary Program, the main goal is to educate the students. Chef Stephen Corbett said that "the most important thing is for the students to understand the entire process. It is important for us to show them that there's more food out there than fried food and cheesesteaks."
Corbett added that the program "wants to convince the students that they may as well try the food, since they are putting so much time into growing, harvesting and cooking it."
Affording good, healthy foods is always a struggle. Buying organic foods always has a higher price and the goal of both Strawberry Mansion's Culinary Program and the Philadelphia Eagles Healthy Food Drive is to make it possible for everyone.
That is why the Eagles are using YouGiveGoods, so that it is easier for everyone to donate. It is really just a click away!
Launched in 2011, YouGiveGoods has hosted more than 2,000 drives. In addition to food, YouGiveGoods also makes it easy for people to donate school supplies, blankets, hygiene items, pet supplies and other products.
So log on to PhiladelphiaEagles.com/fooddrive to make your donation! Every bit counts and every pound donated can make a difference.