Jimmy Rollins hopes to make a hit with health

Posted: July 25, 2014

IN THE SHADOW of the old Tastykake factory in Nicetown, there's a greenhouse with an organic vegetable garden and a 170,000 square-foot warehouse owned and operated by the SHARE Food Program.

About noon yesterday, Jimmy Rollins and his wife, Johari, prepared a batch of fried green beans for a hungry group of fans and SHARE volunteers outside the greenhouse.

"You can't have fries all the time," the Phillies shortstop said. He insisted you try his "green fries" instead. The recipe was simple enough - green beans, olive oil and a dash of salt - but the idea that Philadelphians don't have access to fresh, healthy foods is more complex, and an issue that the Rollins family is invested in.

Rollins was outside the SHARE factory to pledge $10,000 from the Rollins Family Foundation and to put a familiar face behind SHARE's initiative to serve healthy and affordable foods to Philadelphians across the city.

SHARE, which is near Hunting Park and Henry avenues, offers food at a 40 percent discount to families of all different financial situations, the only requirement being that you order and pay on time, and perform some kind of volunteer work - planting, mowing, harvesting or packaging, among others. SHARE also donates food to pantries (a Philabundance truck left just before Rollins arrived).

Last year, SHARE distributed about 19 million pounds of food across Pennsylvania, Maryland's eastern shore, New Jersey, Brooklyn and the Bronx. Rollins' involvement "lends credibility to our work," said SHARE's executive director, Steveanna Wynn.

The SHARE program has just eight staff members but enlists about 2,000 volunteers every month.

"SHARE is all about a hand up, not about a hand down," Wynn explained. "It's about helping people get food with dignity and recognize that everyone is a gift that has something to contribute to the world."

Rollins said that people are going to eat "what they can get their hands on." He hopes that this is a way for folks to "get their hands on healthy foods."

Johari Rollins turned her husband on to his "healthy side." She used to throw out entire drawers full of junk food, much to his dismay. Now, he thanks her for the healthier diet that keeps him energized throughout the season, even after 14-inning games, like the one Tuesday night.

"He's like an example to all the kids in the city that if you eat healthy, lots of things are possible for you," Wynn said.

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