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ABOUT Campbell Soup Company
Campbell Soup Company is a global manufacturer and marketer of high-quality foods and simple meals, including soup and sauces, baked snacks and healthy beverages. Founded in 1869, the company has a portfolio of market-leading brands, including Campbells, Pepperidge Farm, Arnotts and V8. Through its corporate social responsibility program, the company strives to make a positive impact in the workplace, in the marketplace and in the communities in which it operates. Campbell is a member of the Standard Poors 500 and the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes.
Pepperidge Farm Joins Battle Against Childhood Obesity, Graduating Inaugural Class From Project L.E.A.N.
Pepperidge Farm last month celebrated a graduation of the inaugural class of students in Project LEAN (Learning with Energy from Activity and Nutrition), an effort to reduce childhood obesity in the business's headquarters community, Norwalk, CT.
Pepperidge Farm co-founded the three-year program in collaboration with other area partners including Norwalk Hospital, Norwalk Department of Health, and Norwalk's Jefferson Elementary School. The aim was to improve the overall health of 100 second grade students at the Jefferson School, the pilot group, by teaching them lifelong habits of healthy eating and exercise, and to reduce the students' body mass index (BMI), an important health indicator.
"The collaboration between the community partners is an innovative approach and is how Project LEAN came about. From the very beginning, everyone involved—including the other partners, teachers, parents and students—embraced the approach to improve the children's health.," said Ruthann Walsh, Director of Corporate Citizenship.
Project LEAN is a good example of how Pepperidge Farm is making in roads in the battle against childhood obesity, one of the business's two major philanthropic focuses (the other is hunger). Campbell Soup Company is also fighting against the epidemic in its World Headquarters hometown of Camden, NJ. Campbell aims to reduce childhood obesity rates by 50 percent in Camden by 2020.
The program included a "breakfast boot camp," in-school nutrition classes taught by a registered dietician, and after school components. Parents were invited to participate in the after school activities to learn about the benefits of Project LEAN.
Early Results Called 'Promising'
Early results of the program look promising, says Ruthann. "We are very encouraged by the initial findings and are looking for ways to continue to strengthen the program so that we can make a sustainable difference in the lives of the children in our community," she said.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease and Prevention Control, the average BMI of second grade students increases significantly throughout the year. The average increase for Project LEAN participants was significantly less than that average. In addition, absenteeism for the group is down 20% versus last year, and some of the parents involved have reported their children's attitudes toward eating healthy food and exercising has improved.
The partnership will continue to assess the impact of the program by monitoring the health indicators of the class over the next two years.
Tackling a National Epidemic
Project LEAN stemmed from a desire to combat the national obesity crisis, starting on a local level. National and local statistics reveal a dire need for change:
- National obesity prevalence among children aged 6 to 11 has more than doubled in the last 20 years. In Connecticut, 15% of low-income preschool children are medically obese; in Fairfield County that percentage increases to 17%.
- The obesity epidemic causes great health risks to children, including risk of developing chronic diseases such as Type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. A balance of physical activity and healthful eating are proven factors in reducing obesity in children and adolescents.
Jefferson Elementary was chosen as a pilot school for the program because it is the largest elementary school in Norwalk. It also has a large population of children who receive free or reduced rate lunches, an indicator of financial need.
About Campbell Soup Company
Campbell Soup Company is a global manufacturer and marketer of high-quality foods and simple meals, including soup and sauces, baked snacks and healthy beverages. Founded in 1869, the company has a portfolio of market-leading brands, including "Campbell's," "Pepperidge Farm," "Arnott's" and "V8." Through its corporate social responsibility program, the company strives to make a positive impact in the workplace, in the marketplace and in the communities in which it operates. Campbell is a member of the Standard & Poor's 500 and the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes. For more information, visit www.campbellsoup.com.
About Pepperidge Farm
Pepperidge Farm, Incorporated, based in Norwalk, Connecticut, is a leading provider of premium quality fresh bakery products, cookies, crackers, and frozen foods. The company was named the #1 Place to Work in Connecticut in the large companies category of the Best Places to Work in Connecticut competition for 2009. Among the company's most popular products are "Sausalito" and "Milano" cookies, "Goldfish" crackers, "Baked Naturals" crackers, frozen Puff Pastry, frozen garlic loaves and Texas toasts, and more than 50 varieties of fresh baked breads including Pepperidge Farm(R) Swirl, Farmhouse and Whole Grain. The company added "Ecce Panis" gourmet artisan breads to its portfolio last year.
Pepperidge Farm was founded in Connecticut in 1937 by Margaret Rudkin, an entrepreneurial homemaker who began baking fresh, all-natural bread for her allergy-afflicted son. The company is now a nationwide business with 9 manufacturing facilities and almost 5,000 employees. Pepperidge Farm has been part of Campbell Soup Company since 1961.