Duke basketball steps up with big donation to food bank

DURHAM, N.C. -- More than ever, the need has grown for food banks across North Carolina and more than ever, those food banks need your donations. Friday, Duke basketball stepped up.

"It's definitely spiked for sure," said Jennifer Caslin, describing the need for their services. Caslin is Marketing and Project Manager for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. COVID-19 has stressed its staffing and processing ability but most of all, it's increased the need for its services.

"When it's a hurricane, not every area is affected and you can bring in resources from other places," Caslin said, "but every area is affected by this. So, the resources can be tough."

The most direct way to help is through cash donations. On Friday, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski and former hoops manager Kevin Marchetti came through with a big surprise for Caslin, surprising her in a video chat with a $225,000 donation.

Marchetti was a manager on Duke's hoops team from 1996-2000.

"My dream was to be a college basketball coach and I ended up in cold storage," he said.

Marchetti jokes but he's built what has become a massive food handling machine, Lineage Logistics.

"We are the largest temp control warehousing company in the world. If you think about it, we are the food infrastructure, so whether it's frozen chickens, beef, pork, poultry, organic strawberries, ice cream, you name it," he explained.

Lineage handles 100 billion pounds of food per year and now Marchetti is spearheading an effort to get 100 million meals worth of that food into mouths that need it. The venture is called Share-a-Meal and is in partnership with Feed America.

Krzyzewski isn't surprised at Marchetti's efforts.

"He's always had a big heart, and he has always loved people, and creating success," Krzyzewski said.

On Friday, the $225,000 donation is a part of that larger effort. Duke's "brotherhood," as they call it, has also stepped up.

Two examples - Kyrie Irving donated $323,000 on his birthday, March 23, to help New York City families and Jayson Tatum gave upward of $500,000 divided between Boston and his hometown of St. Louis.

READ MORE: Elevation Church teams with Food Bank to create 17,000 meals

Marchetti credits some of the lessons he learned as a manager under Krzyzewski for instilling in him a desire to help.

"As you said, coach, those who are fortunate right now need to do more than ever to give back because a lot of people are unfortunate," Marchetti said.

Caslin knows firsthand the difference the donation and others like it, big and small, will make.

"That's going to make a huge impact in the work we're doing right now, so thank you so much," she said. "I can't be more grateful."