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San Antonio Spurs give an assist to beat hunger Champions Against Hunger Dinner

January 22, 2019

The San Antonio Spurs personally dished out dinner Monday night to help the San Antonio Food Bank provide nutritious meals to children, seniors and families in its 16-county service area.

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich shared light-hearted conversation with diners as players grabbed wine bottles and began filling glasses instead of hoops at the eighth annual Champions Against Hunger Dinner at The Grill at Leon Springs.

The event, featuring the culinary creations of chef Thierry Burkle, sells out each year, and has generated more than $1 million to fight hunger.

On ExpressNews.com: Food Bank needs donations to replenish shelves

Spurs point guard Patty Mills said the event is a time for the team to help the community and for their younger players to have fun.

“The food bank has been doing some wonderful things for a long time now,” Mills said. “It’s very heartfelt for our coach and for our organization.”

The $1,500-per-person dinner attended by about 175 guests was expected to fund some 1.8 million meals.

Various companies and organizations such as Valero, Capital Group and the Gordon Hartman Family Foundation each had a table at the event.

Although the food bank holds brunches, galas, golf tournaments and a 5K run, the annual dinner, despite being “low key in many respects,” is the organization’s largest fund-raiser and one with the easiest return on effort, said Eric Cooper, the food bank’s president and CEO.

“The key ingredient is the Spurs,” he said. “You’re able to sit around a table with others as a family and see the players being themselves, volunteering and having fun. They’re hustling on the floor, greeting guests and serving them.”

Although the dinner supports all of the food bank programs, “Coach Pop always wants to do everything we can to feed kids, so we make that a priority” in using the proceeds, Cooper said. The organization estimates one in four children in San Antonio experiences hunger.

“As for the players, they come from all different backgrounds,” he said. “Some know poverty, and probably hunger. I think they all get it.”

Cooper said he hopes others will follow the Spurs’ lead and help the food bank, which lately has fielded requests for help from hundreds of families affected by the federal government shutdown. Opportunities to help are listed on the food bank’s website, safoodbank.org.

“This is a great cause,” Mills said. “At the end of the day these are the kinds of things that make us a better person.”

Scott Huddleston is a staff writer in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | shuddleston@express-news.net | Twitter: @shuddlestonSA

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