CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: Kraft, Feeding America Provide Oasis in Midst of Food Deserts

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CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: Kraft, Feeding America Provide Oasis in Midst of Food Deserts

To help the inhabitants of “food deserts” — rural and urban communities without reliable access to grocery stores, emergency food assistance or nutritious fresh food. The Kraft Foods Foundation and Feeding America, the United States’s leading hunger-relief organization, have mobilized the Kraft Foods Mobile Pantry program.

2010 will see eight new “farmers’ markets on wheels” take to the road in the second year of a three-year, $4.5 million commitment to Feeding America to provide as many as 25 new mobile pantries to local food banks. The trucks help food banks expand their capacity and reach in affected communities.

“The mobile pantries are a unique solution to the growing problem of food deserts in this country,” noted Tony Vernon, president of Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft Foods North America. “The trucks are a fresh-food oasis, helping reach those that might not have access to emergency assistance. And with a mix of fresh fruits and vegetables, families have more options for good nutrition and balanced meals.”

The beverage-style refrigerated trucks deliver perishable and nonperishable foods, among them the fresh fruits, vegetables, protein and dairy products that are often missing from the diets of food desert dwellers.

This year, the program debuts in Auburn, Maine; Comstock Park, Mich.; Elizabeth City, N.C.; Erie, Pa.; Irvine, Calif.; Pembroke Park, Fla.; Richmond, Va.; and Valdosta, Ga. In 2009, seven mobile pantries were donated for the groundbreaking national initiative.

According to Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Chicago-based Feeding America, “These mobile pantries allow access to healthy, vital food for people who may otherwise not have access.”

Each truck will deliver almost 1 million pounds of food annually, equating to more than 780,000 meals for area residents. The trucks will make stops at local food pantries, churches or school parking lots about three times a week. Families and individuals can select food as they would at a farmers’ market. As well as produce, available items include such center store pantry mainstays as Kraft macaroni and cheese and Oscar Mayer meats.

As part of its ongoing commitment to fight hunger, the Kraft Foods Foundation has donated $180 million over a three-year period to community involvement activities worldwide.