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Foster Farms community program expands to serve 60 percent more students at nine elementary schools

LIVINGSTON, Calif. – Today, 825 Central Valley elementary students will receive a back to school grocery delivery kicking off an expanded 2010/2011 Food 4 Thought program – underwritten largely by Foster Farms. The company and local Feeding America Food Banks (Second Harvest and Merced County Food Banks) launch year two of Food 4 Thought, an incentive-based community initiative addressing two fundamental needs – hunger and education. Amidst deepening school budget cuts and an increase in demand for food assistance, Food 4 Thought helps bridge the gap for needy students and their families in economically hard-hit Stanislaus and Merced counties. Food 4 Thought students in these counties take part in the program by spending eight hours in after school tutorial programs each week in exchange for a 15- to 18-pound bag of groceries twice monthly. The number of students reached in the program has increased more than 60 percent—up from 500 students last year.

“Over the course of the economic slow-down, food donations have dropped while demand for food assistance has risen by up to 25 to 30 percent,” said Mike Mallory, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank which serves San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties. “This unfortunate situation puts children at risk of suffering from moderate or severe hunger, which has been proven to affect school performance and the children’s overall wellbeing. With Foster Farms’ generous support, we are expanding Food 4 Thought this school year to bring necessary food and additional learning opportunities to 825 elementary school students in Stanislaus and Merced counties.”

Studies show that hunger and learning go hand in hand. Chronically hungry children are more likely to miss school due to illness and have a higher incidence of depression, anxiety and homelessness [1]. The goal of Food 4 Thought is to help break this cycle. Food 4 Thought is designed to address the nutritional needs of hungry school-aged children while offering them an incentive to improve their academic performance. The program helps students and their families maintain a healthy diet and stretch limited food budgets while improving children’s self-esteem by providing tangible rewards for their hard work.

“Foster Farms is dedicated to our community and to helping children succeed in the classroom and in their lives,” said Ira Brill, Director of Communications for Foster Farms and a Second Harvest board member. ”We believe this program demonstrates an important life lesson to children: working hard in school can pay off in more ways than one. As an early supporter of this program, we’ve encouraged others to join us and are pleased that Bank of America has joined on as a sponsor based on program’s success. We hope to see continued corporate support in the future and look forward to seeing the positive impact Food 4 Thought has on local students and their families this 2010/2011 school year.”

A survey of 341 Food 4 Thought parents conducted earlier this year indicates the tangible positive impact of the program’s effectiveness:
• 82 percent of parents reported that their child’s grades improved as a result of participating in Foster Farms’ Food 4 Thought program.
• 91 percent said the program improved their child’s personal life.
• 89 percent responded that their child’s communications skills have improved as a result of their participation in the program.
• The majority report that Food 4 Thought significantly helped their family’s grocery budget.

For the past 14 years, the Second Harvest-run Food 4 Thought program has served students in San Joaquin County through funding by grants and individual fundraisers. The program has been so successful it now serves more than 3,500 students at 41 school sites. Foster Farms paved the way for the program to service Stanislaus and Merced counties through the company’s financial support and, through its outreach, has attracted Bank of America as an additional sponsor to help expand the number of schools and students reached. The nine schools now participating in the program include:
• Empire Elementary and Orville Wright School in the Modesto Area will join returning Modesto school participants Eisenhut, Chrysler and Agnes Baptist schools in Stanislaus County.
• Schendel Elementary School and El Capitan Elementary School in Delhi, and Franks Park Elementary School in Winton, join returning Merced County school participant Campus Park School in Livingston.

Foster Farms’ goal with Food 4 Thought is to start locally and encourage others to contribute throughout the West Coast. For more information about Second Harvest Food Bank or donating to the Food 4 Thought program visit:

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.

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[1] Food Research and Action Center. “Child Nutrition Fact Sheet”