At Mars, we know that the ingredients to a healthy diet and happy family often can be found in the kitchen. Kids who spend time cooking with their families today can develop healthy eating habits and valuable life skills they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives.
We also know that parents and children’s lives are busier now than ever before, and prioritizing time to cook and eat together can be a challenge. That’s why UNCLE BEN’S® Brand established the Ben’s Beginners™program and cooking contest to make it as easy as possible for families to gather in the kitchen and cook together.
We’ve created a digital hub that’s easily accessible through the UNCLE BEN’S® website, filled with educational exercises and lesson plans. We provide fun, step-by-step recipes through a variety of interactive online tools, activities and videos for kids, teachers and parents. And with simple, kid-friendly recipes — like Zesty Lemon Chicken and Rice and Mini BBQ Rice Meat Loaves — the world’s No. 1 global rice brand can help you whip up skills that last a lifetime.
“We know the benefits [of cooking together] are many, including developing healthier eating habits and creating lifelong memories,” Ashley Findlay, senior brand manager at UNCLE BEN’S® says. “We love seeing so many families across the country bring this to life throughout the Ben’s Beginners™ program.”
Our goal is to inspire families to cook and eat together by making cooking an easy and fun activity for the whole family. After all, research shows that children who cook and eat with their parents are more likely to reach higher levels of academic achievement — as well as healthier and happier futures. Reading recipes and getting their hands dirty in the kitchen helps kids strengthen reading skills, understand fractions and ratios, and observe chemical reactions in cooking — not to mention it also teaches them how simple it is to prepare a delicious and nutritious home-cooked meal.
“We know the benefits are many, including developing healthier eating habits and creating lifelong memories.” — Ashley Findlay, senior brand manager at UNCLE BEN’S®
Through the #BensBeginners hashtag, families can connect on social media, and together all of our great home chefs are building an inspiring online community that promotes healthy eating and family bonding. It’s also a perfect way to showcase the many delicious ways rice can be prepared in diverse cuisines, exposing kids to new cultures and encouraging them to try new flavors.
UNCLE BEN’S® also launched the Ben’s Beginners™ Cooking Contest for parents and kids from kindergarten through to eighth grade. Families can win one of several grand prizes by submitting a photo online of themselves cooking a rice-based dish. The five grand prizes included $15,000 cash for the family and $30,000 for a cafeteria makeover at the child’s school, promoting healthy eating for everyone.
The Ben’s Beginners™ program already has made a huge impact so far, donating more than $1 million to children and schools across the country. Today, we are continuing to inspire kids and families to spend time together and build relationships and lifelong skills through cooking. Because in the world we want tomorrow, every kid can cook as well as they can read or write.
“The UNCLE BEN’S® Brand is all about inspiring shared meals and spending time together in the kitchen,” Findlay says. “The Ben’s Beginners™ program is our way of bringing this mission to life. It's our goal to help kids learn the essential life skill of cooking and provide convenient products — like our READY RICE® — and family-friendly recipes to make it easy for parents.”