PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pirates’ pitcher Jason Grilli’s name on Twitter is @GrillCheese49.
Now he’s using that nickname to help give back to the Pittsburgh community at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
Forty-thousand pounds of cheese — all donated to the food bank by Land O’Lakes.
The donation was initiated by Grilli who saw the connection with his nickname and what Land O’Lakes was doing in other communities.
“It was something I heard they were doing a campaign with helping inner city kids with the cheese trucks, making grilled cheese sandwiches, driving around just like an ice cream truck does, but they were doing it with grilled cheese,” said the Pirates’ closer. “And Land O’Lakes, we contacted them and they were more than happy to jump in on the opportunity.”
On Wednesday, Grilli was the one grilling the cheese after he reached out to the company about coming to Pittsburgh.
His appearance and the grilled cheese sandwiches brought out a lot of smiles.
Grilli, with his wife and son, met just a small portion of 110,000 people who rely on the food bank for nourishment every month. Twenty-two million meals were distributed last year.
Grilli also toured the facility where boxes and boxes of cheese were being moved into refrigerators.
Food Bank CEO Lisa Scales says this is the biggest cheese donation in their 34-year history.
“It’s going to do so much good on into the summer months when kids don’t have that nutritious meal at school. They have a real need in the summertime for food,” Scales.
Grilli says he wanted to give back to the community that’s given him so much, and his nickname was a perfect launching point.
So how did the grilled cheese nickname start?
“My dad’s nickname when he played was ‘The Cheese Man’ by Gene Lamont who managed here in Pittsburgh. When we reunited with him, he was a coach in Detroit; he started calling me ‘The Cheese Man,” said Grilli. “And when Twitter came out, I had to pick a Twitter handle and ‘Grilled Cheese’ was the one that stuck.”