Three leading natural products brands — organic baby food company Plum Organics, nut butter and organic confections brand Justin’s, and organic, cold-pressured juice brand Suja Juice — are proud to announce a new initiative with Conscious Alliance (CA), a national nonprofit committed to supporting communities in crisis through hunger relief and youth empowerment. The coalition has banded together to launch one of the nation’s first Backpack Programs featuring only natural and healthy products. Leading up to this week’s Natural Products Expo West 2015, the brands are asking their industry partners to join forces with Conscious Alliance to help nourish food-insecure communities.
“It's an honor to support Conscious Alliance in launching their Backpack Program,” Plum Organics co-founder and CEO Neil Grimmer said via email. “We remain passionately committed to working with partners like CA who fight childhood malnutrition in communities across America. Now they need our industry's unified support to reach more children in need. Every little one deserves the right to be nourished."
Since its inception in 2002, Conscious Alliance has provided nearly two million meals to community members in need nationwide with a special focus on economically isolated Native American reservations. The nonprofit will begin its pilot Backpack Program this month at Loneman School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, one of the poorest communities in the United States. With an unemployment rate of over 80 percent on the reservation, every student at Loneman School receives free or reduced lunch.
Backpack programs, which send students home each Friday with a backpack full of food for the weekend, are designed to support food-insecure children who rely on school meals — but traditional programs typically offer packaged food options high in added sugar, sodium and artificial ingredients. Through the CA program, students at Loneman School will receive backpacks full of Justin’s nut butters, Plum Organics fruit and veggie pouches and other nutritious products for the whole family (as Suja juices are perishable, the brand is supporting the initiative with quarterly donations to Conscious Alliance). The kits will also include health and fitness tips.
To expand the reach of the Conscious Alliance Backpack Program to serve more families and impoverished communities, Plum Organics, Justin’s and Suja are urging companies in the natural products industry to join the movement and become part of this first-of-its-kind initiative to collectively nourish the nation’s most vulnerable populations.
“In America, food insecurity is not a calorie crisis — it’s a nutrition crisis,” said Justin Levy, executive director of Conscious Alliance. “Getting access to healthy options is almost impossible for families in the communities we serve, like Pine Ridge, which only has one grocery store for a population of over 30,000 people spread across nearly two million acres of land. That’s why we’re incredibly grateful to have support from brands like Justin’s, Suja and Plum Organics. Now, we’re seeking additional natural products brands to help our Backpack Program reach more children in need of support. Let’s join forces to fight domestic hunger, together.”
A number of consumer packaged goods giants have joined forces in the past year in an effort to tackle childhood hunger in the US: Unilever, P&G and ConAgra all teamed up with Feeding America to raise awareness and donate food; while Unilever Project Sunlight partnered with the SheKnows Media program “Hatch” on The Hunger Project — an initiative striving to help families build awareness and take action to address child hunger in America.