Rice Road Warriors Part One: Winning Hearts and Minds

Black shopping bag filled with green box and bag of rice, text on side says "Get Creative, Start with Rice"
The whole package
Nov 14, 2019
POINTS THROUGHOUT THE MID-ATLANTIC – Year two of the Think Rice Road Trip is winding down, and the team has seen dramatic success staying close to “home” and integrating other components of USA Rice’s Domestic Promotion programs as they hand out thousands of Aroma rice cookers and tons of donated U.S.-grown rice to consumers.

To date, the Rice Truck and her crew have conducted 17 consumer events across Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, with three more events scheduled in Virginia and Maryland.  The team has also made charitable donations at Wilmington’s Ministry of Caring and the Cape Henlopen Food Pantry in Delaware, The Armed Services Retirement Home in Washington, DC, and the Shepherdstown Lions Club & Shepherd’s Pantry in West Virginia, with one more donation scheduled in Virginia next week with the Patriot Pantry, the official food bank of George Mason University.

Consumers trade their email address and answers to survey questions for an Aroma rice cooker and one or two pound bags of rice, recipes, information, and Think Rice swag.  But at its core, the program is about educating consumers, who are becoming ever more interested in where their food comes from, that when it comes to rice they can and should eat American!

“Of course we are armed with great information about U.S.-grown rice for consumers, from sustainable growing practices and food safety standards to nutrition facts and cooking qualities and tips, but the one that seems to be resonating above all others this year is simply that we grow rice in the U.S.,” said Cameron Jacobs, USA Rice director of domestic promotion who was responsible for plotting the truck’s route this year.

“People love hearing that we grow rice here and they tell us that they desperately want to support our growers,” said Deborah Willenborg, USA Rice director of communications who wrote one of the team’s most effective messages.  “We tell them it was America’s rice farmers and millers who bought this rice cooker for them and are giving them some rice, and they can say thank you by only filling it with U.S rice in the future.”

Willenborg says they all promise to do just that and carefully study the Grown in the USA label the team points out to them.

Jacobs adds that consumers are grateful for the new knowledge and the valuable appliance, but that they also say they look forward to hearing from USA Rice again with recipes, coupons, and farmer profiles via the Think Rice Newsletter that they are promised.

While farmers markets, traditional markets, restaurants, and breweries are popular spots for the team, two of the most unique stops this year were at a food and music festival in Delaware that merged with USA Rice’s foodservice outreach, and when the team took over a store in historic Shepherdstown, West Virginia, to create the first ever “All Things U.S. Rice Pop-Up Shop.”  

You can read about those and the annual Think Rice Truck raffle in Part Two tomorrow.