A few months ago, PHA received an unexpected call from a former city resident bearing great tidings. The caller told PHA that there was currently 40,000 lbs of donated food on its way to the people of Battle Creek. 

Where did all this food come from, you ask? None other than a man with roots buried deep in Battle Creek, Tony McGee.

Local Legend Gives Back

Tony McGee has a real passion for fostering good in his hometown. Since he was born and raised in Battle Creek and has family still residing there, the wellbeing of the community is incredibly important to Tony. It’s his hometown, and he credits both his parents and the community for helping him accomplish the things he has today.

Tony has a well-established history in the area, with time spent working for Kellogg and as a busboy at a local restaurant. His father taught him that, “you can right any wrong,” and he has carried this message throughout his travels away from home.

A star football player locally, Tony advanced to become a professional American football player. He played fourteen seasons in the National Football League, including two Super Bowls with the Washington Redskins. 

Unfortunately, Tony is well acquainted with injustice. In 1969, as a student-athlete on the University of Wyoming (UW) football team, Tony was one of 14 players who were unfairly kicked off the team. They were removed for requesting to participate in a peaceful protest planned by the Black Students’ Alliance (BSA) during an upcoming game versus Brigham Young University (BYU). Tony and his teammates were protesting a tenet held by the church that owns BYU. This tenet stated that African Americans could not ascend to the priesthood. Ultimately, after fourteen players chose to wear black armbands as a symbol of protest, they were kicked off the team.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often informally known as the LDS Church or Mormon Church, has since worked to offer reparations for this injustice. In the past two years, their collective efforts with the players (now known as The Black 14) have donated hundreds of pounds of food to communities across the U.S. Tony applauds their work to provide food to those who need it most and continuously seeks more opportunities to help communities in need like Battle Creek.

Working Together as a Community

When PHA learned that Tony was sending 40,000 lbs of food to Battle Creek, they hopped into action. Other local community partners stepped up to help house and distribute this incredible gift.

It wasn’t long before two semi-trucks of full food arrived at a local business called STEWART Industries. The company was well equipped with the warehouse space, forklifts, workforce, and experience needed to store and manage the goods before distribution. STEWART even offered reduced prices on boxes to make packaging everything possible for the benefit of the community.

Once sorted and boxed, the food was then offered to local families in need. Food distribution happened at events that connected community members to other important resources like vaccination clinics and insurance help. The community really came together to make this gift into something amazing. Other notable partners include Battle Creek Public Schools, the Burma Center, Grace Health, New Level Sports Ministries, R.I.S.E. Corp, and Kingdom Builders. The partners plan to distribute any leftover items from the boxes to Battle Creek Public Schools.

The Battle Creek community is so thankful for the kindness of our neighbors and community members. Every single partner was essential in providing food to those in need. We’re thankful for each and every one of you, and for Tony’s gift to the community he loves.