CHICAGO (November 18, 2021) – Today, Mars Food’s BEN’S ORIGINAL™ brand announced it has awarded eight students its U.S. SEAT AT THE TABLE™ Fund scholarship. Created in partnership with the National Urban League and United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the scholarship supports Black students interested in food industry careers. This marks the first cohort of the five-year, $2 million commitment by the brand as part of its mission to create opportunities that offer everyone a seat at the table.
“We’re excited to see the scholarship come to life and make a tangible impact in these students’ lives,” said Mars Food North America President Denis Yarotskiy. “It’s our hope that through both financial support and mentorship via the National Urban League, the SEAT AT THE TABLE™ Fund scholarship recipients will build fulfilling careers within the food industry.”
The eight recipients come from across the country – Texas, Mississippi, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and New York – and are all enrolled in four-year university programs, including Alabama Agriculture and Mechanical University, Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University, Johnson & Wales, Howard University, and North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University. Their areas of study span the full spectrum of the food ecosystem: food science, baking and pastry arts, nutrition and wellness, culinary arts and animal sciences and agriculture.
The scholarship covers education-related expenses up to $25,000 per scholarship, per year, towards the completion of either a food science or culinary arts certificate, associate or bachelor’s degree. The renewable, need-based scholarship is designed to reduce and help eliminate the disproportionate debt Black students face, as well as positively affect the pathway to employment and advancement within the food industry.
“It’s exciting to see such a broad range of disciplines and backgrounds among the first cohort of scholarship recipients,” National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said. “It’s important that we are promoting diversity and inclusion not only among restaurateurs and chefs, but agricultural specialists and food and nutrition scientists. We’re proud to partner with socially-responsible companies like Mars Food and its BEN’S ORIGINAL™ brand, who recognize the need to address systemic inequities and are actively working to create opportunity and build a more resilient economy.”
The U.S. SEAT AT THE TABLE™ Fund scholarship application process will reopen in spring of 2022 for certificate, two- and four-year programs. Black high school seniors, those already enrolled in college, and Black adults interested in certifications in the food industry can learn more and be notified when applications are being accepted at https://uncf.org/the-latest/mars-foods-seat-at-the-table-fund-offers-food-career-scholarships.
“We look forward to growing this partnership,” said Maurice E. Jenkins, Jr., executive vice president and chief development officer, UNCF. “We applaud both BEN’S ORIGINAL™ brand for recognizing the financial need and the National Urban League for stepping up to bridge the knowledge gap through mentorship for Black students entering fields where diversity at the top is severely lacking.”
Though first announced in the U.S., the global brand has since announced expansion of its BEN’S ORIGINAL™ SEAT AT THE TABLE™ Fund in the UK and just this week, Canada, with more markets to follow. In Canada, the brand will partner with four of the top culinary programs across the country to provide $200,000 worth of funding over two years to students from under-represented and equity-deserving groups to help them successfully complete their education.
Additionally, learn more here about how BEN’S ORIGINAL™ brand is investing $2.5 million over the next five years in Greenville, MS – where the brand has been produced for the U.S. for more than 40 years – to enhance educational opportunities for area students, as well as further access to fresh foods.
About Mars Food
Mars Food is a fast-growing dinnertime food business, making tastier, healthier, easier meals that bring the world to the dinner table. With North American headquarters in Chicago, Ill. and global headquarters in London, Mars Food US’s portfolio of leading brands includes BEN’S ORIGINAL™, SEEDS OF CHANGE™, and TASTY BITE™. Our purpose –Better Food Today. A Better World Tomorrow. –drives our business to be a leader in health and wellbeing and sustainability. Mars Food is a segment of Mars, Incorporated. For more information about the BEN’S ORIGINAL Brand and its purpose initiatives, visit bensoriginal.com/ or mars.com/.