With school back in session, Foster Farms kicked off its seventh year of sponsoring the Food 4 Thought program that delivers more than 13,500 pounds of groceries each month to 800 elementary students in seven Stanislaus County schools. At Eisenhut Elementary, one of the program’s first schools, students received 2,000 pounds of groceries. During the event school leaders, food bank staff and company representatives congratulated students for their hard work. This comes at a time when California food insecurity rates are the highest in 10 years. One in four California children – 2.4 million – have limited or uncertain access to adequate amounts of nutritious food. In Stanislaus County alone, 65.7 percent of all students are eligible for free and reduced-cost lunches.
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 a month. In partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank, Foster Farms brought the Food 4 Thought program to Stanislaus County in 2009. Since then, the program has provided 4,500 Central Valley elementary students with more than 1.3 million pounds of food. According to a recent Second Harvest parent survey, the program is improving students’ diets and lifestyles.
The Food 4 Thought program serves students with the support of major sponsors Foster Farms and Wells Fargo as well as other businesses. The 2015-2016 program serves Agnes Baptist, Chrysler School, Eisenhut Elementary, Empire Elementary, Orville Wright School, Franklin School and Capistrano School in Modesto. County school districts designated these schools on the basis of free or reduced-cost school lunch participation and nutrition-related after-school programs, which are a gauge of food insecurity.
In a survey of parents whose children participated in the latest Food 4 Thought program:
- 95 percent reported that Food 4 Thought significantly stretched their family’s grocery budget.
- 88 percent reported that their child’s grades improved as a result of participating in Food 4 Thought.
- 97 percent said the program improved their child’s well-being.
- 89 percent said that Food 4 Thought helps prevent their child from skipping meals.
Michelle Bell, director of After School Programming for the Stanislaus Union School District, said, “The Food 4 Thought program helps those of our students who are most in need. Foster Farms’ consistent support of this program helps our students build a bright future.”
“With school budget cuts and the need for nutritional assistance on the rise Food 4 Thought continues to help bridge the gap for students and families in need,’ said Ira Brill, the company’s director of communications. “Foster Farms is committed to making a difference in the communities it serves.”
For more information about Second Harvest Food Bank, visit: www.localfoodbank.org.