With Jamie Oliver Gone, So Is Huntington, West Virginia's Corporate Sponsorship

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Remember Huntington, West Virginia, the town that Jamie Oliver visited last year in the hopes of teaching its overweight residents how to cook real food? Neither does the U.S. Foodservice.

The Atlantic Food Channel reports that the corporation, which is one of the country's biggest -- and most profitable -- food distributors, has pulled what remains of the $25,000 in funding it pledged to Huntington's Kitchen, the school that Oliver founded when he came to "America's fattest city" to film Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution last year.

Although the company's executives initially paid plenty of lip service to the importance of "the health and success" of the community, they pulled their financial support -- which was supposed to last a year -- for the kitchen after eight months, taking with them the $5,000 still left in the budget. Oliver himself no longer has a financial stake in the kitchen, which in October received a $50,000 donation from a local hospital so that it could stay open for another year. Meanwhile, U.S. Foodservice, which pulls in $19 billion a year, shrugged its shoulders and blamed its marketing department budget for the cuts in funding.


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4 comments
more than a dissident
more than a dissident

you might be right as a former employee, but the results speak for themselves do they. USF keeps more for itself than it is willing to give up for the better health of the citizens, and i dare you to challenge me with evidence that proves that they care more about the health people than worrying about the cost of providing a healthier meal.

USFoodservice
USFoodservice

The article above is inaccurate. U.S. Foodservice fulfilled and exceeded its commitment to the kitchen. Following is the U.S. Foodservice response Jane Black used to update her blog:

Your characterization of U.S. Foodservice in your blog post of February 10 is unfair, misleading and omits or misstates several key facts. Representatives of Jamie Oliver contacted U.S. Foodservice in October 2009 requesting financial assistance to launch Jamie’s Kitchen in Huntington. U.S. Foodservice signed an agreement to provide start up funding of $20,400, consisting of $18,000 in food and $2,400 in cleaning supplies over a one-year period beginning November 2, 2009. As you may know, Ebenezer Medical Outreach Inc. took over Jamie’s Kitchen in February 2010, four months into U.S. Foodservice’s sponsorship term. Despite the fact that the Jamie Oliver “spotlights were gone,” as you phrased it, U.S. Foodservice maintained its commitment and ultimately donated more than $21,400 in food and cleaning supplies over a 13-month period ending December 28, 2010. U.S. Foodservice is proud to have played a key role in the start up of the kitchen. We are further encouraged by the fact that other organizations have followed our lead and made donations in 2010. Any organization that contributes to this cause at any level should be lauded for their generosity in supporting the community. On a broader note, U.S. Foodservice’s sponsorship of Jamie’s Kitchen was somewhat unusual in that the company primarily concentrates its charitable contributions on one national organization—Feeding America, which is the largest domestic hunger-relief charity in America. We believe Feeding America is a natural partner to our food distribution business and have found the organization to be the best way for us to reach the largest number of Americans in need. As a Mission Partner of Feeding America, U.S. Foodservice donates food each month -- totaling nearly 20 million pounds in the last three years -- to more than 200 food banks around the country reaching 37 million Americans facing hunger, including 14 million children and nearly 3 million seniors.

In the interest of fairness, I would appreciate you posting this response to your article. In the interim, please contact me if you would like further information on U.S. Foodservice’s sponsorship of Huntington's Kitchen. Christina Koliopoulos Senior Director, Corporate Communications U.S. Foodservice, Inc.

USFoodservice
USFoodservice

The article above is inaccurate. U.S. Foodservice fulfilled and exceeded its commitment to the kitchen. Following is the U.S. Foodservice response Jane Black used to update her blog.

Your characterization of U.S. Foodservice in your blog post of February 10 is unfair, misleading and omits or misstates several key facts. Representatives of Jamie Oliver contacted U.S. Foodservice in October 2009 requesting financial assistance to launch Jamie’s Kitchen in Huntington. U.S. Foodservice signed an agreement to provide start up funding of $20,400, consisting of $18,000 in food and $2,400 in cleaning supplies over a one-year period beginning November 2, 2009. As you may know, Ebenezer Medical Outreach Inc. took over Jamie’s Kitchen in February 2010, four months into U.S. Foodservice’s sponsorship term. Despite the fact that the Jamie Oliver “spotlights were gone,” as you phrased it, U.S. Foodservice maintained its commitment and ultimately donated more than $21,400 in food and cleaning supplies over a 13-month period ending December 28, 2010. U.S. Foodservice is proud to have played a key role in the start up of the kitchen. We are further encouraged by the fact that other organizations have followed our lead and made donations in 2010. Any organization that contributes to this cause at any level should be lauded for their generosity in supporting the community. On a broader note, U.S. Foodservice’s sponsorship of Jamie’s Kitchen was somewhat unusual in that the company primarily concentrates its charitable contributions on one national organization—Feeding America, which is the largest domestic hunger-relief charity in America. We believe Feeding America is a natural partner to our food distribution business and have found the organization to be the best way for us to reach the largest number of Americans in need. As a Mission Partner of Feeding America, U.S. Foodservice donates food each month -- totaling nearly 20 million pounds in the last three years -- to more than 200 food banks around the country reaching 37 million Americans facing hunger, including 14 million children and nearly 3 million seniors.

In the interest of fairness, I would appreciate you posting this response to your article. In the interim, please contact me if you would like further information on U.S. Foodservice’s sponsorship of Huntington's Kitchen. Christina Koliopoulos Senior Director, Corporate Communications U.S. Foodservice, Inc.

Mark Moreno
Mark Moreno

If in fact the organization received over $20,000 in contributions from US Foodservice then any criticism of them is severely unwarranted. Additionally, by suggesting that food companies are not supportive of anti-obesity campaigns is mean spirited, foolish, and completely unfair. The same company that you are lambasting is an incredible supporter of Feeding America as well as an employer of over 26,000 people in the US who support scores of community programs across the country.

In the interest of full disclosure I need to state that I am not an employee of US Foodservice, I was previously employed by USF until I was terminated by the company in 2009. In my opinion my termination was an example of political correctness run amuck and should not have occurred . My feelings about US Foodservice as an entity can best be described as neutral but my feelings about the majority of the people who work there are very favorable. There are really good people everywhere you look and I think USF has their fair share of them. I think that your article is unfair to them and most importantly does not do anything to help the cause that you seem to be defending. The power of the pen is a mighty one and should be used for the betterment of our society. Thank you for allowing me to share my comments.

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