Dolphins Launch New Community Initiative in Wake of Pandemic & Riots

Brian Flores

Getty Brian Flores celebrates victory against Jets in November 2019.

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to increase unemployment and poverty in the United States, the Miami Dolphins have kicked off a new initiative to do their part for the Miami-Dade community.

The Miami Dolphins Foundation launched a meal distribution program on Monday to residents of the Miami Gardens area. The Food Relief Program will donate 1,000 meals every day for a year. Mondays through Fridays, the Miami Dolphins Food Relief program will prepare and distribute the meals. On Sundays, their local restaurant partners will lend their support.

Team owner Steve Ross and the foundation have pledged $2 million to the initiative, but also intend to match the funds raised by fans. According to the donation website, as of Monday evening, that total was just over $120,000, though the organization is aiming to hit a million-dollar goal.

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Miami Dolphins Launch New Meal Distribution Initiative

Though Mr. Ross was absent, attendees at Monday’s kickoff at Hard Rock Stadium included head coach Brian Flores, general manager Chris Grier, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert, Congressman Shevrin Jones, and Miami Dolphins President and CEO Tom Garfinkel.

“Steve said to me, ‘Race relations in this country are not good right now, unemployment is at an all-time high, and now is the time to help people,’” Remembers Garfinkel. “We don’t think this is a problem that’s going away.”

This is just the latest venture of the Miami Dolphins Foundation to give back to their community during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the months leading up to this week, the organization partnered with local food trucks to feed children living in low-income and impoverished communities all across South Florida.

“Leadership is about service,” said Coach Flores. “To have a platform and opportunity to serve the community and to serve players, coaches, my family, the children of South Florida, and really everywhere, I don’t take that lightly. It’s an honor to have this platform and be able to do that.”

Flores Calls for Voices

Flores, who is black, and one of only three head coaches of color in the NFL, trended on Twitter over the past weekend having issued a statement through the Dolphins organization. In it, he condemned the silence that Americans who had been outspoken about issues like those surrounding Colin Kaepernick had adopted, as the country rioted over the murder of George Floyd.

Among the over 10,000 retweets were Dolphins players Davon Godchaux, Kavon Frazier, Eric Rowe, Byron Jones, and rookies Robert Hunt and Curtis Weaver. Many of the club’s players shared personal anecdotes over the internet in response to the events, some even participated in the protests themselves, taking to the streets of Miami and their hometowns.

Flores did not expand on his statement at Monday’s launch event, but the tensions of these events did not go unacknowledged.

“I think we can all agree that when we look at these videos of these men and what happened, what we’re looking at is completely unacceptable,” said Garfinkel. “We need to work together. We need love and empathy and compassion. It’s how we’re gonna get through this.”

Meal vouchers are being distributed through churches and groups across the community, and those interested in receiving one can email community@dolphins.com for more information. To donate to the fund, visit Dolphins.com/Meals.

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