Storm hits homerun for community with meal relief program

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Jon Gripe, production manager of Lake Elsinore Storm, helps sort meals from the stadium’s Diamond Taproom for delivery as the restaurant has altered business temporarily to delivery only due the coronavirus, Monday, March 30. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

There’s no baseball being played at Lake Elsinore Storm Stadium these days, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on at the old ballfield.

On one side of the facility, drive-up coronavirus testing by Riverside County Public Health is taking place.

On the other side of the facility, at the Diamond Taphouse, the Storm staff is hard at work creating meals to be picked up and delivered to the community.

The Lake Elsinore Storm Meal Relief Program offers members of the community the opportunity to purchase and have delivered a meal prepared by the Storm staff for $6.50 per meal.

For every five meals purchased through the program, the Storm is providing one free meal to a family in need. The program was made possible by a partnership with Anderson Chevrolet, according to Shaun Brock, CEO and co-general manager for the San Diego Padres Single A affiliate.

food prep
Jon Gripe, left, production manager of Lake Elsinore Storm, and Art Romero of diversity outreach and corporate partnerships for Lake Elsinore Storm bag meals the Diamond Taproom will be donating to Southwest Healthcare Systems employees at Inland Valley Medical Center and Rancho Springs Medical Center. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

“Anderson Chevy graciously donated a refrigerated van so that way we can deliver this stuff cold and fresh and keep it great,” Brock said.

On Wednesday, March 25, the Storm kicked the program off by offering a meal consisting of herb roasted boneless skinless chicken breast (precooked) oven roasted, paired with lightly seasoned green beans, steamed roasted red potatoes and two fresh dinner rolls.

Orders are taken on their website, https://www.diamondtaproom.com and are taken until 4 p.m. each day, Monday through Friday. Pickups happen from 4-6 p.m. each day and deliveries start going out at 3 p.m.

“It’s really about getting food out to the people that really need it,” Brock said, adding that the Storm ownership group of Gary Jacobs and Len Simon, as of press time, hadn’t ordered any cuts to staff due to the shutdown of baseball.

“The ownership of the Lake Elsinore Storm, Gary and Len are amazing gentlemen,” Brock said. “They understand that this is a very, very unique time. One of the first things that they said is, we’re going to hold off on, making those really, really extreme cuts and drastic cuts that everyone else in the area has done. A lot of other teams in the league have cut their staff. (Gary and Len) said, ‘Hold off on that, we’re going to continue to pay paychecks. Let’s get our people out there doing something good.’”

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Jon Gripe, left, production manager of Lake Elsinore Storm, and Art Romero of diversity outreach and corporate partnerships for Lake Elsinore Storm prepare to deliver Diamond Taproom meal donations to healthcare workers and home orders. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

A week earlier, the Storm hosted a marketplace twice weekly, offering food for sale such as meat, eggs, toilet paper and vegetables – items that were hard to find in supermarkets.

When drive-up testing started, they had to discontinue the program, but according to Brock, they may end up offering some of those foods for delivery as well through the meal delivery program.

Brock said that while they are a baseball team, he thinks the Storm is more than that.

“I absolutely love baseball, that is why we do what we do,” he said. “But we’re not only in the business of baseball. We’re in the business of creating memories – nine times out of 10 when people are watching a game, no one knows what the score is at the end of the day.

“If we have a really great team, we don’t have a great team for long because they get called up to the next level,” he said. “We love our players when they’re there, but we’re about creating memories and being a community support.”

Brock grew up in Lake Elsinore and attended Elsinore High School and helping to bring the Storm back into the community in this way is important to him.

“Having the opportunity to help lead the Storm team from the office and the companies that are there has been amazing,” Brock said. “I think that’s something that we lacked for a while. We kind of got away from being a real part of the community, and we’re really trying hard to do that again.

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Meal order deliveries from the Lake Elsinore Storm Relief Meal Program can be placed at https://www.diamondtaproom.com. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

“People don’t come to the stadium because they really like paying $10 for a beer. They come because it’s part of their DNA.”

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.