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GSF Foundation Donates Over 8,400 Backpacks to Help Students Succeed This School Year

August 12,2020

The first day of school will look much different this year for many U.S. students who will meet their new teachers and classmates virtually, as distance learning begins. In some areas, students returning to campuses have added a new set of facemasks to their typical back-to-school wardrobe.

However, one thing remains the same, as GSF Foundation’s Back(pack) to School program supports students in need preparing for the school year ahead. This summer, Foundation volunteers from 16 local committees help set students up for success by donating 8,485 backpacks filled with essential learning supplies.

“Whether they’re learning in a classroom or at home, these school supplies will support kids’ academic success,” Vanessa Hugon, GSF Foundation’s Program & Development Specialist. “It’s just amazing to see our associates come together to make this program happen, despite all the obstacles this year. Kids need us now more than ever, and our volunteers have stepped up to help and make a big impact!”

Since 2002, GSF Foundation’s Back(pack) to School program has provided more than 137,000 backpacks to first grade students in need across the U.S., so they can begin the school year ready to learn. Donating these academic necessities to at-risk children also promotes and encourages attendance, while boosting self-confidence.

Adjusting for current circumstances related to the Coronavirus pandemic, some committees have ordered pre-stuffed backpack kits, while others pivoted plans to coordinate home-assembly efforts. Maintaining social distancing guidelines and safety protocols, volunteers have organized backpack distributions with beneficiary schools through drop-offs or drive-throughs.

In its fifth consecutive year of Back(pack) to School participation, the GSF Foundation committee in KanPak Penn Yan, New York has donated 1,400 backpacks this year—the biggest amount among all participating committees—to local school children. Newly established local GSF Foundation committees in Frisco, Texas and Salt Lake City, Utah have jump-started their community support efforts with first-time participation in the Back(pack) to School program.Supporting this year’s backpack donations, business partners include Craftsmen Utility Trailer, Gateway Industrial Power, Morning Star Packing Company, and Taylor Farms Texas. These partnerships augment the generous contributions of GSF associates, which fund Back(pack) to School and the Foundation’s other core programs to help improve the quality of life of children and families.


Premium, Shelf-Stable Milk Nourishes Families in Need Amid Immense Demand


IRVINE, Calif., (June 8, 2020) – Two truckloads of surplus milk donations arrived last week at Southern California’s Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County from an innovative dairy production facility in Kansas. An extraordinary differentiator and potential game changer for food banks facing intense demand and scarce freezer capacity for perishable donations, the shelf-stable, premium whole milk may feed food-insecure families immediately or up to nine months from now.

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GSF Foundation Volunteers Persevere in Coronavirus Community Relief Efforts

May 13, 2020

Responding to the unrelenting need for support due to the Coronavirus pandemic, GSF Foundation volunteers from across the Golden State Foods family of companies continue to give back in the communities where associates live and work. Doing whatever they can to be of service to others, hundreds of compassionate Foundation helpers have opened their hearts and given of their time, talent and treasure throughout trying times of widespread hardship and uncertainty.

“At this point, we understand that the immense needs of our most vulnerable community members will not let up any time soon,” said Tess McAnena, GSF Foundation Executive Director. “With ever-growing opportunities to help, I’m so inspired by our local Foundation committees and their perseverance in carrying out our mission to help improve the quality of life for children and families in need.”

In Charlotte, North Carolina, GSF Foundation volunteers and their families wrote 100 letters of appreciation, assembled 100 snack packs, and donated 100 boxed lunches to healthcare heroes at Levine Children’s Hospital. A local community group, the Ghostbusters of North Carolina, helped make the special delivery in early May.

One of Golden State Foods’ newest distribution locations, Quality Custom Distribution (QCD) Boston, donated two pallets of orange juice along with other snack cheese and meat products to its local food pantry and in turn, to first responders at fire and police stations, and to public schools. Half a pallet of orange juice benefited children who receive free or reduced lunch through their school.

As food insecurity continues to challenge countless families, QCD Denver supported its local Food Bank of the Rockies by transporting surplus Starbucks product donations and providing a long-term loan of a refrigerated trailer for extra cool storage of perishable food. In an email to its supporters in April, the Food Bank shared:

“The flow of produce donations has been very high as the supply chains try to adjust for the change in restaurant volume. Without this critical resource, we would have had to turn down a number of donations.”

Foundation volunteers from KanPak Kansas helped Angels in the Attic unload truckloads of food donations, as a growing number of families in Arkansas City and surrounding communities continue to struggle with food insecurity due to Coronavirus and its economic impact. In Penn Yan,  New York, KanPak volunteers donated 600 face masks to the staff of local schools.​

Supporting COVID-19 relief efforts, QCD Orlando volunteers, with the help of Starbucks, donated 84 cases of ready-to-eat snack boxes to One Heart for Women and Children. The nonprofit helps families transition through and overcome varying hardships by providing food, clothes, personal hygiene essentials, and life skills classes.GSF Foundation Spokane volunteers purchased and delivered food bank donations to support neighbors in need in the Washington and Idaho communities where QCD associates live and work. This spring, QCD Seattle donated non-food items to Emergency Food Network and its partner programs, which have experienced increasing demand for items like sturdy cardboard boxes, body wash, and hand soap.

GSF Foundation Spokane volunteers purchased and delivered food bank donations to support neighbors in need in the Washington and Idaho communities where QCD associates live and work. This spring, QCD Seattle donated non-food items to Emergency Food Network and its partner programs, which have experienced increasing demand for items like sturdy cardboard boxes, body wash, and hand soap.

By pulling together as a team and through micro-volunteering, associates continue to seek out ways to help their local communities through challenging times. GSF Foundation volunteers take action to give back, show gratitude, and support those in need. With every passing week, their kindness and generosity add up to a much bigger impact.

GSF Associates Support Communities Through Coronavirus Pandemic

April 17, 2020

The Coronavirus health crisis continues to seriously impact the most vulnerable members of communities where GSF and its family of companies do business. In response, associates around the world are taking care of each other and their neighbors in need. From micro-volunteering to large-scale donations, look to the generous associates of GSF when looking for the helpers in these unprecedented times.

KanPak associates in Penn Yan, New York donated touch-free thermometers to local first responders to help keep the community safe. Foundation volunteers and family members also created and distributed appreciation cards to local essential businesses in the Penn Yan Area to thank those serving the community in restaurants, hardware stores and assisted living homes for senior citizens. In Kansas, KanPak donated safety glasses to a local hospital to help protect essential medical workers. 

QCD Charlotte helped its local food bank transport donations to the convention center for a mass volunteer packaging effort. GSF Foundation volunteers from the same Charlotte facility assembled cheerful Easter baskets for local elementary school students. Irvine associates and their families also made Easter baskets and gave them to a Southern California nonprofit.

“Living GSF’s culture through and through, many associates have engaged in micro-volunteering activities with small groups or within their own households while staying home,” said Tess McAnena, GSF Foundation Executive Director. “These small efforts add up to benefit children and families in a big way.”

In addition to fast-tracking nearly $200,000 in food bank grants through matching funds with 12 local Foundation committees, GSF associates have supported customer food donations. In early April, GSF’s Protein Products team supported its McDonald’s customer donation to the Food Bank of East Alabama, which received 25 pallets of hamburger meat made nearby in the Opelika facility. That’s nearly 500,000 quarter-pound burgers!

The Opelika facility also donated 1,000 protective plastic suits to the East Alabama Medical Center (EAMC). Healthcare workers at the local hospital desperately need the isolation gowns, as their supply of personal protective equipment recently dwindled down to only a few days left. According to an EAMC executive, “This donation was just in time.”

With ingredients donated by Cargill, McCain Foods, Schreiber Foods and Griffith Foods, GSF Corporate Chef Glenn Lewis teamed up with other local chefs in GSF’s Chicago Innovation Center to cook up 150 individually packaged dinners for doctors and nurses at Lurie Children’s Hospital. This month’s additional donation of time and talent expands on the chefs’ ongoing commitment to prepare meals for four-to-six weeks and donate them to more than 100 children and family members staying at four Chicago-area Ronald McDonald House locations. GSF customer McDonald’s included a photo and details about these efforts in its website story this week.

More than 100 KanPak China associates contributed charitable donations, which received matching funds from the company. As a result of this donation campaign that began in February, KanPak China gave about $7,000 (U.S.) to support their local Red Cross in purchasing protective equipment needed for medical staff serving their community in nearby hospitals.

GSF Chefs and Partners Prepare Meals for Chicago Ronald McDonald House Families

April 7, 2020

In the commercial kitchen at GSF’s Chicago Innovation Center, corporate chefs are preparing meals for 100 guests of four local Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) homes. Collaborating with Cargill, McCain Foods, Schreiber Foods and Griffith Foods, GSF chefs have helped cook up a variety of healthy breakfasts, lunches, dinners and desserts over the past two weeks.

“We’re a small team of healthy professional chefs, following all food handling procedures and GSF protocols,” said Glenn Lewis, Senior Corporate Executive Chef for GSF. “McCain Foods, Griffith Foods and Schreiber Foods have donated ingredients, while Chef Stephen Giunta and I teamed up with Chef Donald Doubek from Cargill and culinary consultant Chef Gillian Lewis to safely produce and deliver this much-needed food.”

To support their RMHC neighbors through these uncertain times, the chefs plan to continue giving their time and culinary talents to make meals for the next month or more. Their efforts support the RMHC locations at Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, Advocate Children’s Hospital, Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, and Comer Children’s Hospital.

In an April 2 social media post, RMHC of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana recognized GSF and its partners as “meal heroes,” sharing that, “Our friends at Cargill told us, ‘Without Golden State Foods’ kitchen and chefs, we wouldn’t be able to do this. We are so thankful!’ As are we!”

QCD Charlotte Volunteers Participate in GSFF Bike Build to Benefit Local Children

April 3, 2020

GSF Foundation volunteers in Charlotte, North Carolina did not let the Coronavirus health pandemic stop them from carrying on with their annual GSFF Bike Build. In March, QCD Charlotte associates delivered 41 fully assembled bikes, along with helmets, locks, water bottles and Chick-fil-A gift cards, to their local Boys & Girls Club. 

This marks the fifth consecutive year that QCD Charlotte has given back to its community through the GSFF Bike Build. Although volunteers missed their annual tradition of building bikes together with the kids, this year’s donation will still bring smiles for miles, as the children ride their new two-wheelers this spring.

“The kids started picking up the bikes we purchased and built in late March, just as we’re all looking forward to some nice spring weather and more outdoor activities,” said Pete VanSaun, Safety & Training Manager and GSF Foundation Assistant Chair for QCD Charlotte. “With everyone spending more time at home right now, it’s so important to give these children a chance to stay active and go out for bike rides.”

Foundation committees in Irvine, California and Orlando, Florida also plan on participating in the GSFF Bike Build later this year. A core program of the GSF Foundation, this initiative provides second- and third-grade school children in need with their own, and often very first, bicycle they build themselves under the guidance of a caring mentor. This program teaches fundamental life skills, such as goal setting, safety, the value of hard work to achieve goals, and the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle through physical activity.

Coronavirus Prompts Heightened Foundation Support

March 27, 2020

In response to the evolving Coronavirus health pandemic, GSF Foundation has quickly taken action to help children and families in need during this unprecedented time. Foundation leaders have fast-tracked nearly $200,000 in food bank grants through matching funds for local Foundation committees.

“We’re seeing more food insecurity now, as children miss out on free school lunches and families grapple with job loss or reduced hours due to Coronavirus health and safety ordinances,” said Tess McAnena, GSF Foundation Executive Director. “Our associates are stepping up in this time of need to support the most vulnerable members of the communities where they work and live.”

Food Engineering article published on March 20 covered the Foundation’s efforts to help neighbors in need, in response to Coronavirus. In an interview with the outlet, Dr. Wayne Morgan, GSF’s Corporate Vice President and President, Protein Products and Sustainability, shared, “At the heart of Golden State Foods, we have our associate-led, associate-funded GSF Foundation that has already taken action to help children and families in need during this challenging time. Our Foundation leaders are currently fast-tracking food bank grants and offering matching funds for our facilities’ local Foundation committees to support neighbors in need in the communities where GSF associates work and live.”