Foster Farms Kicks Off Sixth Year of Food 4 Thought Program Providing Food Assistance - and Learning - to 750 Central Valley Elementary School Students
Program has provided 1.1 million pounds of food to more than 3,750 children since its inception
MODESTO, Calif. – On October 10, Foster Farms kicked off its 6th year of the incentive-based Food 4 Thought grocery program by delivering more than 13,500 pounds of groceries to approximately 750 food-insecure elementary students at seven school sites in Stanislaus County. This comes at a time when food insecurity among children is a continuing concern, and according to Feeding America’s “Map the Meal Gap” survey, California ranks #13 in the nation for food insecure households.
Food 4 Thought is an incentive-based program that addresses two fundamental needs – hunger and education. Students participate in eight hours of weekly after-school programs four academic, four extracurricular in exchange for a 15-to-18 pound bag of groceries twice monthly. In partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank, Foster Farms brought the Food 4 Thought program to Stanislaus County in 2009 and, since then, the program has provided 3,750 Central Valley elementary students with more than 1.1 million pounds of food. According to a recent Second Harvest parent survey, the program is improving students’ schoolwork and confidence.
Now entering its 6th year, the program serves nearly 750 students at seven school sites with the support of major sponsor Foster Farms as well as Wells Fargo, and others. Stanislaus County Schools served by the 2014/2015 program include Agnes Baptist, Chrysler School, Eisenhut School, Empire Elementary, Orville Wright School, Franklin School and Capistrano School in Modesto. Schools were designated by the county school districts based on free or reduced school lunch participation and existing after-school programs.
According to Feeding America, close to 16 million children do not get enough food on a regular basis. School lunch programs do help, but they don’t solve the whole problem. Studies show that children in need of food assistance are more likely to do poorly and miss school.
In a survey of parents whose children participated in the latest Food 4 Thought program:
• 97 percent reported that Food 4 Thought significantly helped their family’s grocery budget.
• 93 percent reported that their child’s grades improved as a result of participating in Food 4 Thought.
• 96 percent said the program improved their child’s personal life.
• 95 percent responded that their child had a better understanding of his/her school work.
Today, students at Chrysler Elementary in Modesto were personally congratulated for their hard work by representatives from Foster Farms, Second Harvest Food Bank and school leaders. One such leader was Michelle Bell, the After-School Program District Coordinator for the Stanislaus Union School District.
“Food 4 Thought has had a positive impact on our students – both in their school and home lives,” said Bell. “We are grateful to Foster Farms for continuing this program with our schools and helping to build a strong foundation for the children’s future.”
With school budget cuts and demand for food assistance persisting, Food 4 Thought continues to bridge the gap for needy students and families.
“There’s a real hunger problem in our own backyard and Foster Farms is committed to doing its part to help those in need,” said Ira Brill, Director of Communications for Foster Farms. “The great thing about Food 4 Thought is that it is incentive-based and addresses both hunger and education. Every year we receive great feedback from parents, teachers and students. We hope that the continued success of Food 4 Thought inspires others to help sponsor the program and allow it to grow—we’re proud of each and every student that participates and we look forward to seeing them excel this school year.”
Foster Farms’ goal with Food 4 Thought was to start locally, expand efforts, and encourage other organizations to join the movement by helping spread the program throughout the West Coast.
Food 4 Thought is one of Foster Farms’ many community programs. The company also assists thousands of families through partnerships with West Coast food banks, its Pass the Plate and annual turkey donation programs, and countless other community events and scholarship programs.
For more information about Second Harvest Food Bank or how to donate to the Food 4 Thought program visit: www.localfoodbank.org
About Food 4 Thought
Food 4 Thought is an incentive-based program that helps address two fundamental needs – hunger and education. In exchange for eight hours in after-school tutorial programs – four in academic, four in extracurricular – student participants receive a 15-18 pound bag of groceries twice monthly. Food 4 Thought has been operated by Second Harvest Food Bank in San Joaquin County for the past 18 years through support of grants and individual fundraisers. The program now serves 3,300 students at 42 school sites. In 2009, Foster Farms’ financial support enabled the program to expand to serve seven school sites in Stanislaus and Merced Counties – and the program is now kicking off its 6th school year there. It will continue its support of this program next year.
About Foster Farms
Since 1939, West Coast families have depended on Foster Farms for premium quality chicken and turkey products. Family-owned and operated, the company continues its legacy of excellence and commitment to quality established by its founders, Max and Verda Foster. Foster Farms specializes in fresh, all natural chicken and turkey products free of preservatives, additives or injected sodium enhancers. Based in California’s Central Valley, with ranches also in the Pacific Northwest, the company’s fresh chicken and turkey are produced in or near each region served. Foster Farms also produces delicious pre-marinated, ready-to-cook and fully cooked products that meet the quality and convenience needs of today’s home cooks, retailers, warehouse clubs and foodservice customers. The company’s commitment to excellence, honesty, quality, service and people is a source of great pride, and, a longtime family tradition.