For nearly a year, COVID-19 has changed the world, from the way we live, work and travel, to how we entertain and celebrate events. And the biggest sporting and pop-culture event of the year, Super Bowl LV, was no exception.
In September 2020, Bellmont Partners and our partner Cahill Communications kicked off planning with GENYOUth, the new organizer and beneficiary of the Taste of the NFL, an event that started 30 years ago right here in Minnesota. Usually held on the eve of the Super Bowl in the game’s host city, the typically in-person gala event brings together celebrity chefs, NFL players and hundreds of supporters from around the country to raise millions of dollars to provide meals for hungry Americans. But as with most events in 2020 and 2021, it needed to pivot.
GENYOUth, a national non-profit organization that fights childhood hunger, knew the typical in-person event couldn’t happen, but the need to help feed the hungry children across the United States was greater than ever. The pandemic has only elevated the issue of childhood hunger, with 1 in 4 kids in the U.S. now living with food insecurity. Many children depend on school lunches as their main source of nutrition, and with distance and hybrid learning happening all over the country, getting school lunches to hungry kids became more vital than ever.
After brainstorming many potential scenarios for how the reimagined event would look – including keeping close tabs on COVID-19 case counts and Tampa-area event restrictions and parameters – the GENYOUth team determined that this was the year to create a first of its kind NFL-sanctioned interactive live streamed event. With this format, people from around the country could participate from the safety of their own kitchen. Taste of the NFL @Home featured the combined star power of celebrity chefs Carla Hall, Andrew Zimmern, Tim Love and Lasheeda Perry cooking up delicious recipes – with a surprise appearance by NFL player Ryan Fitzpatrick, all with the goal of helping to feed our nation’s kids. The event also featured a “Chalk Talk” presentation with sports greats Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning and Claressa Shields, hosted by James “JB” Brown. Tickets to the live stream were $100 each, with all proceeds benefitting GENYOUth’s COVID-19 Emergency School Meal Delivery Fund, which helps school nutrition professionals obtain the meal delivery equipment and resources they need to get meals to students.
Bellmont Partners and Cahill Communications pitched, helped coordinate and monitored both local and national interviews with the celebrity chefs and GENYOUth’s CEO, Alexis Glick. The live stream event was a huge success and scored more than 300 media stories, and most importantly, raised funds to continue to help feed hungry kids across the country.
Next year we hope supporters of the Taste of the NFL can gather in person again in Los Angeles, but in the meantime, we’re thankful for the opportunity to have played a small part in this first-ever, innovative, fun and important virtual event.
*Photo courtesy of GENYOUth