UNCLE BEN’S, the number-one selling rice brand in the country, recently held an opening event at the newest UNCLE BEN’S-sponsored Kids Cafe located at the Kathryn M. Bellfield-Booker Washington Heights Cultural Arts Center (formally Sarah Nance Elementary) in Columbia, S.C.
The Kids Cafe is made possible by a partnership with the Columbia Bethlehem Community Center, Harvest Hope Food Bank, and Feeding America. It is one of 16 that UNCLE BEN’S has opened around the country since September 2007. The program, which provides free meals and snacks to some of the 12 million children in the United States who are hungry or at risk of going hungry, expects to serve more than 9,000 meals within the next year at its newest location in Columbia.
“I am pleased Mars Food U.S. and Uncle Bens have brought their effort to help end childhood hunger to the Sixth Congressional District,” said Rep. James E. Clyburn. “The opening of this Kids Cafe in Columbia is an important step toward that goal. I look forward to seeing our young people benefit from this opportunity and to it impacting their lives in a positive way.”
Employees get personally involved, too
The first UNCLE BEN’S Kids Cafe opened in September 2007 in Greenville, Miss., the home of the brand’s U.S. rice plant. For more than a year local Mars employees worked to renovate the Kids Cafe â€“ tackling everything from painting and cleaning to refurbishing the kitchen with working appliances.
â€˜In 2007 we joined with Feeding America, pledging funds to establish UNCLE BEN’S-sponsored Kids Cafe locations in safe places where kids congregate after-school and are proud of what has been accomplished in a short time,â€™ said Bryan Crowley, Vice President of Marketing for Mars Food U.S., makers of UNCLE BEN’S. â€˜The Kids Cafe in Columbia is one of seven cafes Uncle Ben’s will open this year and at this location alone, more than 50 local kids have the opportunity to eat healthier and live happier every day.â€™
UNCLE BEN’SÂ® has opened Kids Cafe locations in U.S. cities in communities where Mars does business. In addition to the Albany, Ga. and Columbia, S.C. openings this year, the following locations opened in 2009: Little Rock, Ark., Shreveport, La., Springfield, Mo., Harrisburg, Pa. and Austin, Texas.
â€˜We are thrilled with our partnership with UNCLE BEN’S, which over the past three years has helped expand the Kids Cafe program to reach even more children in need,â€™ said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America. â€˜With their support, we have been able to provide 158,000 meals to kids in need.â€™