Monday, October 19, 2009

Whole Foods Thanks Customers for Supporting The Lunch Box Project


AUSTIN, Texas — Whole Foods Market, a leading natural and organic grocer, extends thanks to customers at its 273 U.S. locations for donating $660,065 to help transform school lunches across the country. Over the past eight weeks, customers surpassed the Company's goal of $400,000 to fund the development of "The Lunch Box Project," an online resource created by "Renegade Lunch Lady" Chef Ann Cooper's nonprofit, F3: Food Family Farming Foundation, which helps public schools provide more nutritious lunches for kids. This total combined with a $50,000 donation from the company means F3 will receive $710,065.

"Our customers have shown us that providing healthy lunches for our children is an issue of great importance to them," said Whole Foods Market Co-President and Chief Operating Officer Walter Robb. "We are so pleased to celebrate National School Lunch Week this year by recognizing and thanking our shoppers for their contribution. Inspired by our customers, we are deepening our own commitment by asking each Whole Foods Market location to partner with a school to work on making real progress in cafeterias in our communities' schools."

These store-school partnerships are already developing. For example, as a result of attending one of Whole Foods Market's community discussions, Dr. Melissa Kim, principal of Alice Deal Middle School in Washington, D.C., has struck up a multi-faceted relationship with Whole Foods Market in Tenley. Together the store and the school will approach the school's third-party food service provider with the aim of coordinating menu transitions and culinary training. Additionally, the Tenley store is partnering with the school's International Cooking Club, which meets once a week, to explore cuisine from around the world.

"We are so grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support by Whole Foods Market customers and employees for the creation of 'The Lunch Box Project,'" said Nicole de Beaufort, executive director for The F3 Foundation. "The momentum created by this campaign has generated not only the means to build a successful set of resources; it also has built awareness about the connection between what we feed our children and their health and well-being."

"The Lunch Box Project" toolkit, found online, is now providing more than 80 recipes -- all nutritionally analyzed and easily scaled for portion size or number of servings. The next phase of the project will add food safety and culinary how-to videos, photos and manuals to help school lunch providers make serving nutritious, affordable lunches to students a reality.

In the spirit of National School Lunch Week, parent groups, schools and districts are encouraged to share anecdotes about how their cafeterias are improving lunches. From hosting local farmers markets and providing fresh produce to limiting fast food options in school kitchens, share your story at The Lunch Box website.

To increase national awareness of the "School Lunch Revolution," Whole Foods Market partnered with Chef Ann Cooper who traveled across the country to hold community discussions, serve on expert panels and deliver parent lectures. The three-week, six-city tour concluded last week also included school facility tours and a healthy cooking competition for children, an event that rallied customers around the cause.

This week the company also announced that Albert Einstein Academies Middle School is the winner of the School Lunch Revolution online video contest. Einstein Middle School is a charter school in the San Diego Unified School District. Einstein's entry was selected from the one-minute videos produced by parents passionate about improving lunches in their schools. The winner will receive a visit and coaching session from Chef Ann Cooper.

National School Lunch Week was established in 1963 by presidential proclamation. The week is designed to help raise awareness of, and support for, the role that the National School Lunch Program and nutrition education play in the lives of children.

Whole Foods partnered with customers in order to do good, what a novel idea. Costumers exceeded the $400,000 goal, and even inspired Whole Foods to partner with local schools throughout the school year. Whole Foods costumers rallied behind Whole Foods in support of the cause. Is your business leading the community in philanthropic endeavors? If not, give it a try, you may be surprised.

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