SAN DIEGO, CA – The Think Rice Road Trip came to a close here earlier this week after more than 5,000 miles across nine states with thousands of consumer interactions, and USA Rice teams distributing more than 4,000 pounds of rice and 3,000 Aroma rice cookers. Along the route the teams made several charitable donations in Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and California, but saved one of the most meaningful for last.
Since arriving in southern California in late November, the #RideWithRice crew teamed up with the San Diego Food Bank, a group that manages hundreds of charitable organizations in the region, to help them with their important mission.
“In November we gave the San Diego Food Bank four commercial rice cookers to distribute, and then last week we participated in the group’s Day to Donate alongside great partners like San Diego Fox 5, Von’s Supermarkets, Toyota, SeaWorld, and others,” explained Cameron Jacobs, USA Rice domestic promotion manager. “Louisiana rice farmer Kevin Berken and Arkansas rice farmer Jennifer James were on hand and helped us generate excitement at the event and hand over about 500 pounds of rice.”
And then this Monday, USA Rice participated in a food distribution organized by the San Diego Food Bank for families at Naval Base San Diego where the rice cooker distribution generated even more excitement than usual.
“They told us to expect about 250 families to come through, but word got out that we were giving away rice cookers and we actually saw 386 families,” said Asiha Grigsby, USA Rice international promotion manager who was on hand for the event. “The reaction was pretty overwhelming – folks were so appreciative. Being from a military family myself I understand how important it is to let these men and women know we stand with them.”
Grigsby said one attendee told her, “I’m a busy mom of three including a 10-day old, and my husband deployed this morning. This cooker is exactly what I need and I came down just for this. Thank you so much!”
USA Rice Manager of International Policy Jesica Kincaid also volunteered for the event and at one point found herself side by side with the commander of the entire base, Captain Roy Love, handing out cookers and rice.
“The volunteers told us this was the most people they have ever served at a single event,” she said. “By the end, the other food stations were running low on supplies, but we had enough rice cookers and rice from Uncle Ben’s and Producers to send everyone home – including the volunteers – with a care package. It was really special.”
All told the USA Rice contribution to the San Diego Food Bank exceeded 420 rice cookers and 1,000 pounds of rice, which will have a huge impact on the community.
“I consider us lucky to be able to partner with the San Diego Food Bank,” Jacobs said. “They are so vital to the region with such a wide reach, a caring staff, and delightful volunteers, led so effectively by the wonderful Jim Flores. We met a lot of hard-working and dedicated people around the country, but wrapping up our tour here in California with Jim and his crew sent us all home feeling even better about our programs.”