Nikki Romolo has worked in the business of sports for more than a decade, and in the last five has been part of a Sporting Kansas City club that has a connection to the community unlike any she's seen in her previous work. Now, SKC's director of hospitality says, the club is trying to repay that connection.
Sporting announced the launch of Sporting Community Kitchen, a partnership with City Food & Events (the club's caterer) and Operation BBQ Relief that will provide 1,000 free hot meals every weekday to citizens in the Kansas City area impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The initiative is one portion of a broader series of initiatives aimed at providing community relief called Sporting Serves, Romolo said.
"Sporting Kansas City is such an important part of the Kansas City community," Romolo said. "I've never seen a community that embraces a team like here does with Sporting Kansas City. So this is something we wanted to do to make sure that we gave back."
Families picking up meals are required to register in advance. | Estuardo Garcia-Sporting Kansas City
The club is distributing 250 four-pack meal kits to people and families who have lost work because of the pandemic. Recipients must register on the morning of picking up their meals beginning at 8 am CT. They will be able to drive directly to the cutout outside the Budweiser Brew House to pick up meals without leaving their car.
This week, the club is partnering with Plowboys Barbeque, with meal packs consisting of a rotating barbeque entree, two sides and bread for four people. Romolo said she's expecting the club to partner with other restaurants on a week-to-week basis in the future. The end date of the program is to be determined, Romolo said.
Sporting are also looking for volunteers to assist with meal distribution, Romolo says, and the club will provide those volunteers with gloves and supplies to make a home-made mask.
The volunteers who assisted with the first day of meal distributions. | Estuardo Garcia-Sporting Kansas City
"Our No. 1 priority for volunteers is safety," Romolo said. "We're fortunate enough to do this out of our stadium, so everyone will have distance between each other. We're just going to need volunteers to help facilitate the delivery of meals to cars as they lineup on Village West Parkway."
Romolo said project was inspired by a similar area effort, the Rieger Hotel's Crossroads Community Kitchen. The club had inquired about partnering with the hotel, which because of its relatively small kitchen size was already operating at capacity.
Volunteers distribute meals to cars that drive up to Children's Mercy Park. | Estuardo Garcia-Sporting Kansas City