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Foster Farms celebrates 75th anniversary by feeding 750 families

Families pick up meals at SnowCap


Foster Farms celebrated its 75th anniversary by providing full chicken dinners to 750 families at SnowCap Community Charities Aug. 8.

That comes to about 3,000 family members, and Foster is also partnering with seven local food banks along the West Coast to provide the dinners throughout the summer as well as a commitment to feed an additional 75,000 people through its online share program. Learn more at http://take75.com.

Judy Alley, executive director of SnowCap, said Foster Farms is providing a great service.

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: BEVERLY CORBELL - Judy Allen of SnowCap Communities Charities, center, and Ira Brill of Foster Farms, right, pack bags full of chicken dinners that will feed 750 families.“We have 1,000 pounds of pre-cooked and sliced chicken,” she said. “It's frozen and you can use it for a salad or stir fry and we're adding enough for a whole meal with fresh vegetables and cake mix too.”

The theme of the Foster Farms' program is “Pass the Plate,” a movement focused on encouraging people to take at least 75 minutes each week to “get back to basics and enjoy meals with family and friends.”

Alley said the program encourages people to strengthen family ties over meals. But without food, there is no family time, she said.

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: BEVERLY CORBELL - Judy Allen, executive director of SnowCap Community Charities, helps visitors select groceries.“If there's no food to come home to, kids will look to eat at someone else's house and the family is scattered,” she said. “The Food Bank helps, but meat is something we're always short of.”

Ira Brill of Foster Foods came to SnowCap for the chicken dinner distribution, where paper bags full of fresh vegetables and other groceries awaited being picked by families in need.

“Foster Farms is very happy to do this and chicken is a 'center of the plate' meat,” he said. “We know that 15 to 20 percent of people in America go to bed without food. We recognize the need and we want to give back. It makes a difference.”

According to the Sodexo Foundation, which fights child hunger, "17 million children go to bed hungry" each night in America. The Child Trend Data Bank website states that as of 2013 there were 74 million children in the United States, and if those figures hold true, that would bring the total of American kids going to bed hungry closer to 22 percent.

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: BEVERLY CORBELL - Foster Farms donated more than 1,000 pounds of chicken for complete dinners including fresh vegetables to be given to struggling families at SnowCap Community Charities.Foster Farms has been involved in food distribution to poor families for a long time, he said, and have helped fund the Food for Thought program in the Central Valley of California where students in third through sixth grades attend school for eight extra hours per week. In return, the kids get 40 pounds of food per month to take home. During their afterschool time, a teacher is present and kids can work or homework or extra projects, he said.

“The kids assemble (the food) and teachers and principals love it,” he said. “Right now we service about 2,500 students in California's Central Valley, but the need is even greater than that.”

Brill said Foster Farms would like to expand the program to the Pacific Northwest.

“Through the program we found that we can provide funding, but the difficult part is to link up food banks and school districts,” he said.

Brill said his wife grew up poor in the Appalachia area and never would have had a chance without help from assistance programs like Head Start.

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: BEVERLY CORBELL - A sign at SnowCap publicizes the efforts of Foster Farms to feed struggling families in the Pacific Northwest.“This is a great country but everyone deserves an equal shot,” he said. “I'm hopeful we can make a contribution to their future.”

He recalled talking with one girl in the Food for Thought program, about to enter junior high, about her goals for the future. He was shocked when she said she not only wanted to go to college, she wanted to attend Harvard.

“I asked, 'why Harvard,' and she told me because President Obama went there,” he said.

That just shows that when people have enough to eat, they can make other strides, Alley said.

“If you help people, they'll help back and become contributing members of the community.”

SnowCap Community Charities is a philanthropic organization created to provide food, clothing, advocacy and other services to the poor. Learn more at http://www.snowcap.org.



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