Athletes within Special Olympics are first and foremost just that – athletes.
More than 24,000 children and adults compete in 14 different sports across Northern California and Nevada, often training nearly year-round to be at their physical best. Just like athletes in professional sports, college, high school or recreational leagues, participants in Special Olympics push their bodies to the limit to reach their respective mountaintops.
Raley’s (also operates Bel Air Markets and Nob Hill Foods) is a strong supporter of Special Olympics Northern California & Nevada and is dedicated to providing the athletes with the healthy fuel that their bodies need to perform at the highest level. Raley’s, which operates 122 supermarket stores in California and Nevada, has donated 7,650 healthy boxed-lunches during five Special Olympics competitions so far this year, including more than 4,000 lunches during two days of competition at the 2017 Special Olympics Northern California (SONC) Summer Games.
“Raley’s is committed to infusing life with health and happiness and we see that spirit in all the athletes associated with Special Olympics,” said Becca Whitman, Raley’s community relations manager and executive director of Raley’s Food for Families. “We are proud to bring nutritious meals to the athletes while supporting their efforts to live a healthy life.”
Each Raley’s boxed lunch includes a protein-packed wrap, such as turkey; fruit; and pretzel snacks. Most of the athletes (and volunteers) at the regional and state competitions are on site for most of the day, making the Raley’s lunches a key ingredient to maintaining energy throughout the competition.
“Having Raley’s support has allowed us the opportunity to encourage our athletes to eat healthy during the day and not get stuck eating junk food or meals with little nutritional value,” said Matt Cohen, senior vice president of sports for Special Olympics Northern California & Nevada. “We’re working hard to educate our athletes and their families on making positive health choices, and the Raley’s team has been a big part of that. We’re very thankful for their partnership.”
In addition to the provided 7,650 lunches, Raley’s employees have volunteered at Special Olympics events, passing out food and interacting with the athletes and families to share healthy nutrition options and activities to practice in their daily lives.
“Our team at Raley’s understands the importance and impact of giving back,” said Whitman. “For more than 82 years, we have been led by individuals who believe in donating their time and treasure. Raley’s is committed to volunteering because we believe in growing healthy communities and it takes all of us to do that – including food education, or access to activity. Our team has enjoyed meeting and providing healthy food options to the coaches, parents and athletes that participate in Special Olympics – it’s those relationships that fulfill us.”
Founded in the Sacramento area, Raley’s was a big hit with athletes and volunteers at the recent SONC Summer Games in nearby Davis. Feedback included:
- “Loved the wraps this year!” – Leilani
- “I love the chicken-Caesar wrap! It was so delicious, now I want to go get more when I go back home.” – Elizabeth
- “We thank you, Raley’s!” – Maurice
- “Thank you, Raley’s! We appreciate the lunches that you provide us at the Special Olympics events.” – Phillip
- “It’s really good. I feel strong and will do better for my gold medal.” – Mark
Along with the SONC Summer Games, Raley’s provided lunches and volunteer staff at the 2017 Special Olympics Nevada (SONV) Summer Games in Reno, Nev.; the Rocklin Spring Games; the San Jose Spring Games; and the Marin Spring Games. Raley’s was recognized as a Gold Level Sponsor for the 2017 SONV and SONC Summer Games.
“Throughout our company footprint, Raley’s supports various community organizations and initiatives including our five events with Special Olympics,” said Whitman. “We are grateful that we can play a role in providing healthy and nutritious food to our communities.”
Raley’s has earned numerous awards and has been recognized for its philanthropy and community involvement, contributing to a number of worthwhile causes and organizations. Learn more about Raley’s and find a location near you at www.raleys.com.