PRO*ACT, America’s leading distributor of fresh produce to the foodservice industry, has made a sizeable contribution to H.E.L.P., which stands for Healthy Eating Lifestyle Principles, Inc. The support was provided through the PRO*ACT FOUNDATION, which was established so that employees, distributor members, customers and suppliers can join together to provide assistance following natural disasters or in times of need.
H.E.L.P. is a non-profit agency founded in 2004 by Basil Mills as an adjunct to the Monterey County Office of Economic Development and the Monterey County Business Council. Its mission is to educate people about the benefits of healthy eating, particularly fresh fruits and vegetables, and physical activity. Numerous programs in the Monterey area include a multi-faceted learning project that introduces three- to five-year-olds in Head Start to the “healthy and fun” world of produce. Another after-school program is targeted at third to fifth graders, with activities designed to promote a balanced diet and physical activity. Nutritional education results from actual gardening experience.
Suzanne du Verrier, Executive Director for H.E.L.P., says, “We have used PRO*ACT’s donation for our Head Start program. It has allowed us to keep the program going through June.”
“Pro*Act’s support comes at a critical time for our organization,” says Gina Nucci, H.E.L.P. Board President and Director of Healthy Culinary Innovation at Mann Packing Company, Salinas, Calif. “Funding during these tough financial times has been a challenge. Our Fruits & Veggies 101 Class is the only nutrition education that pre-K students – and their parents – are receiving in the Monterey County. No other programs reach both parents and children.”
She adds, “To see students taste a Gala apple or spinach for the first time is an amazing experience. Not only do they get to sample groups of fruit and vegetable varieties each week throughout the course, but they learn how they grow, are harvested and are prepared. For some of these kids, this is the first time they’ve tried the variety of fruits and veggies available. We’re hoping they’ll now fill their plates when they get to the salad bar line at school.”