LEMOORE — In just the last three years, the Leprino Foods Foundation has donated nearly $285,000 to various organizations in Lemoore, Hanford and the Riverdale area, with the most recent donation to the Lemoore FFA program being its largest.
In December, the foundation donated $40,000 to the program to finish the second phase of its hog barn. In 2016 the foundation donated $20,700 for the first phase of the project.
According to a post on the Lemoore FFA Facebook page, the money will allow the program to double the size of its existing barn.
While the foundation is just going into its fourth year, it continues to grow, said Ana Nicks, human resource manager. Each year, Leprino Foods provides a budget to their plant locations with the intent to donate the entire amount annually.
Nicks said both the Lemoore East and West plants work together to help the community through the foundation. She said the 2019 budget was around $87,000 and they were able to expend it all.
Along with reaching out to community leaders for ideas about needs in the community, Nicks said Leprino employees bring forward and recommend worthy causes to the foundation, which are then reviewed by a board.
She said all potential applicants are based on four pillars: nutrition, education, fitness and local needs.
When looking at the applicants, she said the foundation tries to make sure the money will go towards something that helps drive the community, supports volunteers and is also important to the hearts of the employees.
Nicks said Leprino employees are part of the communities they live in and feel it is important for them to help support growth, so they try to give back in as many ways as they can.
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Some of the larger donations over the last three years include Soroptimist International of Hanford, Friends of the Lemoore Library, Habitat for Humanity of Tulare/Kings Counties, Children’s Storybook Garden and Museum, Champions Recovery, Lemoore Parks and Recreation, Hanford VOAG, and Lemoore Senior Citizens Center.
Other donations include Kids Safe Day, Boys and Girls Club, God’s Bread Box, the soup kitchen and various parades and relays.
Nicks said the Leprino foundation has been happy to partner with the Lemoore FFA program, especially after they learned about one-quarter of Lemoore High School Students (around 545 students) are enrolled in agriculture-related classes or are in the FFA program.
She said Leprino has employees at both plants who are from Lemoore, went to LHS and their children now do the same. She said they wanted the students to continue their education by helping the FFA program expand.
This way, Nicks said more students can participate in raising an animal, where they may not have had the space to do so previously.
The Facebook post from Lemoore FFA said the students and staff were grateful for the generosity of the company.
“It's support like this, and people who are willing to invest in our students, that allows our department to continue making an impact in the lives of our students,” continued the post. “We are very grateful to Leprino Foods, and cannot thank them enough.”
Nicks said it is great to be a part of a company that understands the importance of giving back to the communities they are a part of.
“Leprino is a family owned business and the communities we work in are part of that family,” she said.