Uncle Ben's ® Opens New LA Kids Cafe to Fight Child Hunger

Celebrity Chef Mario Batali Conducts Cooking Demo with Kids to Celebrate Opening

mario batali

In continuation of its multi-year partnership with America’s Second Harvest, UNCLE BEN’S®, the number-one selling rice brand in the country, today celebrates the opening of a new Kids Cafe location in Carson, Calif.

The Kids Cafe, which will provide free meals to children at the Scottsdale Boys & Girls Club of Carson, is one of seven UNCLE BEN’S®-sponsored Kids Cafes opening in 2008.

To celebrate the occasion, world-renowned celebrity chef, cookbook author and restaurateur Mario Batali will be at the Boys & Girls Club to conduct a cooking demonstration for the 100 children who regularly use the facility. Batali will do a hands-on cooking lesson with the kids, showing them how to make fun and great-tasting meals at home, as well as talk to them about his love of cooking.

As part of the partnership, UNCLE BEN’S® is donating $1 million to open Kids Cafe locations in Mars North American communities where it does business, providing free meals and snacks to low-income children.

“Through the Kids Cafe program, Uncle Ben’s has made a significant impact on the lives of children across the country and our commitment to ending childhood hunger is growing with the addition of seven more cafes this year,” said Vincent Howell, president, Mars Foods US. “Not only do the kids get a hot meal to eat, more importantly, the cafes are a foundation for the kids to build friendships and to learn about living a healthy lifestyle.”

America's Second Harvest COO Bill McGowan read a congratulatory letter from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, "applauding America’s Second Harvest, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Carson and Uncle Ben’s for coming together to help those in need and to ensure that many children in your community are receiving nutritious meals and learning the importance of living a healthy lifestyle."

Also joining in the celebration were local elected officials, including Carson Mayor Jim Dear who said, “The City of Carson is honored and proud to join Mars Food US and Uncle Ben’s in their vision to fight child hunger in the community. Through the opening of this Kids Cafe here at the Carson Boys and Girls Club, we are all taking an important step towards that vision.  We hope that through this donation, we can help improve the lives of children in the community by making a contribution to their well-being. We look forward to seeing our young people enjoy it and to seeing this cafe change their lives in a positive way.”

mario bataliFirst of Many Kids Cafes

The first UNCLE BEN’S® Kids Cafe opened in September 2007 in Greenville, Miss., the home of UNCLE BEN’S® U.S. rice plant. For more than a year, local Mars employees worked to renovate the Boys & Girls Club – tackling everything from painting and cleaning to refurbishing the kitchen with working appliances.

The Carson-Scottsdale Kids Cafe will also regularly offer cooking lessons to the children who use the facility. Mars Food US has offices in nearby Ranch Dominguez, Calif., making it easy for their associates to regularly volunteer at Carson Boys & Girls Clubs. Over the next year, UNCLE BEN’S® will open Kids Cafes in other US cities near Mars offices and factories including: Chicago, Ill., Nashville, Tenn., Oklahoma City, Okla., Reno, Nev., Hillside, N.J., and Chattanooga, Tenn.

About the America’s Second Harvest Kids Cafe Program

America's Second Harvest – The Nation’s Food Bank Network – is the largest charitable hunger-relief organization in the country. It started the Kids Cafe program in 1993, which has since grown into the most expansive child-feeding program in the United States, providing nutritious free meals and snacks to low-income children through a variety of existing community locations such as Boys and Girls Clubs.

After 10 years of existence, the Center on Hunger and Poverty evaluated the effectiveness of the Kids Cafe program and found that it not only fights child hunger, but also serves as a critical support system for families. Top improvements noted in children include earning better grades in school, having more energy and having better concentration.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Uncle Ben’s to help us expand the Kids Cafe program in the Los Angeles area,” said Vicki Escarra, President and CEO of America’s Second Harvest. “With their support at the Carson location, we will be able to serve an additional 13,000 meals each year, providing the children with a healthy meal and even teaching them how to prepare recipes in their own homes.” 


UNCLE BEN'S®, the number one rice brand in America, is proud to offer a wide range of rice dishes with flavors and textures that will help bring more to your meals, both for convenient side dishes and savory main courses. UNCLE BEN'S® offers a wide variety of white, whole grain brown, and flavored rices in cook times ranging from 30 minutes to 90 seconds, as well as rice for food service operations such as restaurants, schools and hospitals.

The first mass-produced parboiled rice, UNCLE BEN'S® is the top-selling branded rice in the United States and products can be found in more than 100 countries worldwide. UNCLE BEN'S® is manufactured by Mars Food US, part of the United States food, snack and pet care operations of Mars, Incorporated.  For more information, visit www.unclebens.com.

About America’s Second Harvest

America's Second Harvest — The Nation's Food Bank Network is the largest charitable domestic hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through its network of more than 200 member food banks, America’s Second Harvest annually  provides assistance to more than 25 million people in need, including more than 9 million children and nearly 3 million seniors in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Each year, America's Second Harvest secures and distributes more than 2 billion pounds of donated food and grocery products to support feeding programs at approximately 50,000 local charitable agencies, including food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, after-school programs, and Kids Cafes. To learn more, please visit www.secondharvest.org.

LOS ANGELES (May 28, 2008) –


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