Adrian Peterson: Today on Thanksgiving, let's help fight hunger in Detroit

Adrian Peterson, Special to Detroit Free Press
·5 min read

Detroit Lions running back Adrian Peterson is teaming up with The Athlete's Corner to donate 100,000 meals to families in need this holiday season to help fight hunger in Detroit. Peterson, who initially planned to donate 1,000 meals for every Lions touchdown and 2,000 meals for each of his own touchdowns in November and December, wrote this op-ed for the Detroit Free Press ahead of Thursday's Thanksgiving Day game against the Houston Texans at Ford Field:

Many of you are reading this as you start your Thanksgiving Day, gathering with loved ones, socially distant or maybe virtually this year, about to watch the Detroit Lions game. Lions football and Thanksgiving have been a holiday tradition for my family for as long as I can remember. Just like all of you, for my family football and Thanksgiving go hand-in-hand. I can’t remember not having a game on while we celebrated and gave thanks — moments I remember growing up that I now get to share with my children.

I’ve had a long and decorated football career thus far but being able to play for the Lions on Thanksgiving is definitely an honor I will remember. Playing in the same uniform as Barry Sanders, while the whole world watches, is a childhood dream I never imagined I’d get to live out. This will be my first time lacing up my cleats for the Lions on Thanksgiving, and while I will have pride and excitement in representing the city of Detroit, I also will be mindful of the current situation in our city.

Detroit Lions running back Adrian Peterson helps out at a food distribution event in Houston last June. as part of his charitable giving to help alleviate food insecurity in communities around the country. He will be donating 100,000 meals to help combat hunger in Detroit this holiday season.
Detroit Lions running back Adrian Peterson helps out at a food distribution event in Houston last June. as part of his charitable giving to help alleviate food insecurity in communities around the country. He will be donating 100,000 meals to help combat hunger in Detroit this holiday season.

So many of us are fortunate to have planned our Thanksgiving meals without a second thought on how we could afford those few extra groceries this week. But for so many of our neighbors, putting food on the table is an everyday struggle. One in seven people in Michigan report dealing with food insecurity, according to Feeding America, the nation's largest domestic hunger relief organization, and that includes one in seven children. These families are the same ones we worship with, share classrooms with, and root for the Lions with.

Families who never had to ask for an extra hand before the COVID-19 pandemic hit have found themselves struggling to feed their families for the first time in 2020. For the first time, many of our fellow Detroiters are having to choose between keeping their heat on or purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables, no longer able to rely on school lunch programs for their children as schools shift to temporary online learning. Food banks are struggling to keep up with demand and the city of Detroit is now no stranger to long lines at mobile food banks. These are ordinary people, just like you and me, doing the best they can to keep up with the never-ending audibles of this challenging year. These are people who would have never imagined needing to ask for help.

Detroit Lions running back Adrian Peterson will wear a special pair of cleats during the Thanksgiving Day game highlighting his 100,000 meals effort and decorated with his one of his favorite Bible verses, Matthew 25:35-40.
Detroit Lions running back Adrian Peterson will wear a special pair of cleats during the Thanksgiving Day game highlighting his 100,000 meals effort and decorated with his one of his favorite Bible verses, Matthew 25:35-40.

As we eat, celebrate, and enjoy a feast this Thanksgiving, I’m asking my fellow residents of Detroit to reflect and take note of the moment. When you see me on the field today, take a second and learn why I’m dedicating my performance this very special Thanksgiving. I’ll have one of my favorite verses on my cleats today, as my feet touch the turf of Ford Field. In Matthew 25:35-40, the Bible states “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me….The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ " My wife Ashley and I have tried to uphold these words as we give through the A&A Peterson Family Foundation. No matter your faith, religion or beliefs, I hope you join me in having faith in our humanity. We are all connected by loving and caring for those who are struggling. That’s why I’m humbled to share that today, while I’m on the field rushing for #OnePride, our foundation will team up with The Athlete's Corner — a website which gives athletes a platform to share their stories — to donate 100,000 meals to families in Detroit.

Our donation of 100,000 meals will go directly to Gleaners Community Food Bank here in Detroit, with the help of Feeding America. Gleaners serves our neighbors in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston, and Monroe counties. They distribute over 43 million pounds of food each year to soup kitchens, food pantries, homeless shelters and, for the first time this year, due to the pandemic, mobile food kitchens. The good folks at Gleaners have served without regard to their own personal health and safety, weathering extreme temperatures and longer hours just to feed our city.

My hope today is to bring home a win for the Lions and to bring your family joy on Thanksgiving. But also, to start the conversation around your Thanksgiving table about how we can all better serve our neighbors. When our fellow citizens of Detroit were hungry, what did we do? How did we serve them? How did we inspire others to serve alongside us? So many of us are blessed with so much, but it is our duty to lift up one another. What better time to start than today? Give thanks for the feast you are about to enjoy but also give thanks that you are in a position to serve others. I’ll be rushing with a little extra #AllDay motivation today. It’s not just about football for me on this Thanksgiving, it’s about the City of Detroit.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions' Adrian Peterson: Let's help fight hunger in Detroit