A Movement to Kick Hunger

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September 29, 2016 By: Marie Pauley Category: Events

Being in the hospitality business, Wayne Kostriski’s job has always been to feed people. When he visited a food shelf in Minneapolis down the street from one of his restaurants in 1985, he saw firsthand how hunger affects the local community. A mother with two children came to the food shelf. After the family received their food and exchanged a hug and a smile with the executive director, Wayne asked, “What happens if you don’t have food here?”

The response was simple – people in the community don’t get fed.

“I’ve never been hungry in my life,” Kostroski, founder of the Taste of the NFL said. “My mom was a single mom, she worked two to three jobs and I never had to wonder when my next meal would be.” So seeing this woman and her children at the food shelf stuck with Wayne and the desire to raise awareness about hunger became an important part of his work.

A few years later the opportunity came about to combine his personal work in hunger relief and his real work in the hospitality industry. With just a few phone calls and the desire to create a unique experience for guests of the 1992 Super Bowl, Wayne Kostroski started what is now the premier fundraising event of the Super Bowl each year – Taste of the NFL. This party with a purpose has grown from one annual event to an organization that hosts multiple events and campaigns throughout the year, in cities across the nation, all with the goal of raising awareness of hunger and dollars for hunger relief.

In an effort to increase local connections and impact, the Taste of the NFL has supported the addition of events and campaigns unique to local markets. For Second Harvest Heartland, two of those events are the Let’s Kick Hunger Day Radiothon and the Kick Hunger Challenge.  

Both began with the desire to tap into the local NFL fan base in the heart of football season. The radiothon is a day-long, live broadcast from the Mall of America, the WCCO Radio team and volunteers take donations to raise crucial funds to help Second Harvest Heartland provide meals right in our community.

Last year, the radiothon hit a milestone raising more than $260,000, pushing the seven-year event total to nearly $1.5 million.

Let’s Kick Hunger Radiothon will be returning to Mall of America and WCCO airwaves late January 2017. In the meantime, football fans can support their favorite team through the Kick Hunger Challenge! At the end of the Kick Hunger Challenge, 100% of all dollars donated by the teams’ fans will directly benefit their communities, as all donations will go to each team’s hometown food bank partner.

It’s clear that the entire Taste of the NFL team has a passion for hunger relief. Every partner, every action, big and small allows us to continue make a difference in the lives of our hungry neighbors.

“Even if it’s not dollar donated, I might not see it, you might not see it but how amazing that we’re maybe getting someone involved to volunteer or just be more aware of the issue of hunger and all locally,” said Wayne.


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