CHESTERFIELD, Va., Aug. 17, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Sabra CEO Shali Shalit-Shoval joined employees in Chesterfield County, VA, to launch Sabra's "Plants with a Purpose," a community engagement mission dedicated to helping alleviate the impact of Food Deserts in the U.S. Food Deserts, as defined by the USDA, are neighborhoods and towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, affordable food (specifically fruits and vegetables). It is estimated that more than 23 million Americans live in impacted areas. Sabra Dipping Company is the maker of America's best-selling hummus and a range of dips and spreads, and this program aligns with their vision of bringing people together through fresh food experiences.
Sabra's Plants with a Purposeinitiative will take root with a pilot program in the company's backyard in Richmond and Chesterfield County, VA, through the establishment of an organic employee work-share garden on Sabra's campus, home to the company's Gold LEED certified hummus-manufacturing facility. In comparison to areas of similar size, shockingly, Richmond has been described as the largest food desert in the country. Sabra employs more than 600 professionals at its Virginia facility. The on-site garden and associated support for community engagement, nutrition and culinary education programming is being coordinated at launch in collaboration with Renew Richmond, a non-profit dedicated to urban agriculture in underserved Richmond, VA, communities. The efforts leverage Sabra's nutrition and culinary expertise while fostering and furthering community driven initiatives. The pilot is the first step in a long-term initiative the company expects to expand over time.
"This is the land of plenty, but there are plenty who lack far too much including access to the basic necessity of fresh fruits and vegetables," said Sabra CEO Shali Shalit-Shoval while introducing Plants with a Purpose to employees. "As a brand dedicated to creating a fresh new way of eating and connecting, it is not enough to offer products that enhance and inspire consumption of fresh produce. We are uniquely positioned to help address this very real and sometimes surprising challenge facing communities across the country, where access to affordable fast food far outpaces or entirely overtakes access to quality, affordable fruits and vegetables. And, we will begin right here, in our backyard, where the need is great. It is our mission to bring people together through better food experiences, and we have an opportunity to step up with this program that aligns with our purpose as a business."
To further shed light on a little-known crisis in the U.S., here are some facts and resources:
Increase awareness around the issue of Food Deserts
Drive results by engaging with and educating the community, partnering with NGOs and non-profits emphasizing community-driven solutions
Support environmentally and economically sustainable solutions to increase produce consumption
Provide peer-driven nutritional and culinary workshops in target communities
Collaborate with health agencies and other private entities seeking to address the issue
Expand the program each year
"We expect to grow Plants with a Purpose each year," added Shalit-Shoval. "Our objective is to begin at home, with our employees, their families and the communities where we conduct business and then expand our reach geographically. By supporting the individuals and organizations already driving incredible grass roots efforts on the ground, we aspire to propel their success, whether through the granting of land, seeds, nutrition education, culinary inspiration or transportation. Each community will play an active role in determining the unique expression and best approach. This is a long term commitment to make an impact and drive positive change."
Sabra is one of the first companies in the U.S. to make this the sole focus of its CSR efforts. After a long review of causes to support, along with employee feedback, Sabra selected Food Desert solutions and is setting a goal to be a corporate leader and catalyst to bring more attention and dedication to the cause.
"The solution to the challenge of Food Deserts is multifaceted, but not complex," said Dr. M Ray McKinnie, interim Dean at VSU College of Agriculture, which initiated a Food Desert study and associated documentary raising awareness for this issue. "Bringing vegetables into an urban area is not enough. There are several components to successfully improving Food Deserts. Access to quality and affordable produce must be supported by relevant education and community connections. A sustained systematic and collaborative approach will lead to success. We are thrilled to have Sabra take a leadership role in helping meet these needs locally and shine a light on this issue nationally."
About Sabra Dipping Company, LLC Sabra Dipping Company, LLC is the leader in the refrigerated dips and spreads category and producer of America's top-selling hummus. Sabra's award-winning products offer consumers fresh new ways of eating and connecting and include more than a dozen flavors of hummus and a wide range of refrigerated dips and spreads including salsa, guacamole and Greek yogurt dip. Sabra's range of offerings includes items that are non-GMO, vegetarian, gluten-free, kosher and vegan and can be found nationwide in club stores, supermarkets, specialty retailers and through food service. Sabra operates a gold LEED certified factory in Virginia. Find Sabra at www.sabra.com, www.facebook.com/sabra and @Sabra on Twitter and Instagram.
Sabra Dipping Company was formed as a U.S./Canadian joint venture between Strauss Group and PepsiCo. The Sabra joint venture draws on both Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo, and Strauss Group's expertise to continue building this growing business.