Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sabra: Increasing Access to Healthy Food

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An estimated 23.5 million Americans live in food deserts, areas of the country that have little-to-no access to affordable and nutritious food. While this is partly due to a lack of grocery stores and farmer's markets in these regions, food deserts are also caused by a disproportionate amount of fast food restaurants and convenience stores that carry inexpensive, unhealthy products. Research has shown that food deserts contribute to health problems, namely malnutrition and the various chronic diseases associated with obesity. Although this is a complicated problem in need of a multipronged approach, most agree that it would be a good start to make nutritious products more affordable and readily available.

Earlier this month, the CEO of the Sabra Dipping Company announced that the company would be investing time and resources towards an effort to eliminate food deserts. Sabra's Plants With a Purpose program will begin to tackle this issue in what has been called the largest food desert in the country: Richmond, Virginia. In the program's first weeks, the employees at Sabra's Virginia hummus-manufacturing facility have started a work-share garden, planting and growing fresh fruit and vegetables on their own time. "Employee gardens" were considered a fad a few years ago, but Sabra is putting a twist on the concept by donating the harvest to a local nonprofit called Renew Richmond.

Renew Richmond's urban agriculture program helps to provide healthy foods through "veggie box" deliveries in low-income Richmond communities. Citizens in these areas, who have been forced to rely on the convenience stores within walking distance for sustenance, can order twenty pounds of fresh produce through Renew Richmond for just twenty dollars. In addition to this partnership, Sabra is working to ensure that the access to high-quality produce is supported by relevant education and community connections. It also plans to grow Plants With a Purpose on an annual basis, with the goal of eventually raising awareness and alleviating the impact of food deserts in every affected state. 

While the campaign is only in its beginning stages, it is clear that this pilot program is already a great example of effective cause marketing. In addition to helping those in need, Plants With a Purpose serves to spread the word about Sabra's products and affirm its core brand message that healthy food can bring people together. I look forward to seeing how the brand's program will grow and flourish, much like its garden, over the upcoming years.

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