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Giant chicken helps wrap up food program for students

Giant chicken helps wrap up food program for students

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POSTED May 21, 2010 10:18 p.m.

As the Food 4 Thought pilot program wrapped up its final delivery at Campus Park Elementary School in Livingston on Friday, students were surprised by a visit from the Foster Farms Foster Impostor chicken. The six foot tall chicken took photos with children and gave each member of the Food 4 Thought program a certificate and a T-shirt for participating.

Food 4 Thought is a program sponsored by Foster Farms and administered by the Merced County Food Bank. Each student who participates in Food 4 Thought receives a 16 pound bag of groceries twice a month. George Solis, principal of Campus Park Elementary, said that the kids have to earn their bags of food.  They spend eight hours each week in after school programs with a minimum of four of those hours spent studying.

Campus Park Elementary is the first school in Merced County to participate in Food 4 Thought pilot program sponsored by Foster Farms. The Food 4 Thought program has been around for 13 years in San Joaquin County, but with underwriting by Foster Farms, it was expanded to Stanislaus and Merced counties for the 2009/2010 school year.

Program administrators considered the Stanislaus/Merced pilot program so successful that they expanded it for the coming school year. In a survey sent to parents by Foster Farms representatives, 90 percent of parents said they saw improvement in their children's academic lives as a result of their participation in the program. Angela Alcazar, a parent who attended Friday's event, said that her second grade son participated in the Food 4 Thought program.

“I noticed that he's more focused now. He gets snacks during the day now, and I think that helps him to focus and get his work done,” Alcazar said.

Solis said that the food bags contained a lot of “extras,” or food that a lot of families leave off the grocery list when they are worried about money. Each bag on Friday had a few staple foods like macaroni and cheese and soup, but they also held a lot of fruit, nuts and other snack foods.

The Food 4 Thought program in Stanislaus County gave food to 500 students in Stanislaus and Merced counties this school year. Next year, the program will expand to more than 800 students. Ira Brill, director of marketing services for Foster Farms, said that they hope to include more schools in the program next year, but they have not identified which schools yet.

To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail agoodwin@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.

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