PHOENIX -- There are several important statistics that D-backs team president and CEO Derrick Hall will never be happy with, and they have don't have anything to do with baseball. According to an assessment of data compiled by the Valley of the Sun United Way and the Association of Arizona Food Banks, 82,000 households in Maricopa County are "food insecure" and chronically hungry. Fifty percent of those households have children and 20 percent house senior citizens. To combat the problem, Hall and second baseman Aaron Hill have teamed up with the Valley of the Sun United Way, the Ending Hunger Advisory committee and other community leaders to promote the UNITE to End Hunger initiative, a four-year plan to end hunger in the county and promote a systematic change.
"We believe that with the right partnerships and right leadership that we can end hunger in our community, but it's going to take a community-wide effort," said Merl Waschler, president and CEO of Valley of the Sun United Way. "That's what this campaign is about." On Monday, Hall urged fans to take the Pledge to End Hunger at vsuw.org. The D-backs, through the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation, will donate one dollar, up to $100,000, for every pledge taken to help end hunger. "All we are asking is for you to take the pledge to say you want to unite to end hunger and be a part of our initiative," Hall said. "We are not asking for money or donations -- although, it would be nice and eventually we do need some of that to accomplish what we need to accomplish -- but we are looking for community-minded folks to say, 'Enough is enough,' and step up to the plate and be a voice and be on this team." The first goal is to end chronic hunger in the 33 percent of the households that will be affected by 2016. The initiative also strives to improve access to out-of-school-time meals for children, improve distribution of meals for seniors, and provide nutritional programs and information for pregnant women. "Personally, this is so meaningful because I can't imagine or think about children going without food," Hill said. "It's something that I am very passionate about and I want to be involved with, and not just as a voice. My wife and I are very excited to do whatever we can. Kids should not have to go hungry. It will be fun to see how far we can go with it."