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Whole Planet Foundation(TM) (a Whole Foods Market Foundation) and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus Partner With Natural Foods Vendors, Pledging Over $1 Million to Help Combat Poverty

Allegro Coffee Company, Back to Nature, Balance Bar, The Hain Celestial Group, ITO EN, Naked Juice, New Chapter, Seventh Generation, Stacy's and Whole Foods Market(R) join forces to make a difference in developing world


AUSTIN, Texas, March 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Whole Planet Foundation, a Whole Foods Market nonprofit dedicated to combating poverty in developing countries through microcredit, today announced the creation of a unique coalition of natural foods companies -- Whole Planet Foundation Supplier Alliance for Microcredit. The Alliance has pledged $1.05 million over three years to help support the Foundation's microlending programs in developing world communities.

The Alliance partners -- Allegro Coffee Company, Back to Nature, Balance Bar, The Hain Celestial Group, ITO EN, Naked Juice, New Chapter, Seventh Generation, Stacy's and Whole Foods Market have together committed more than $1 million that will directly support more than 32,500 people in 6,500 families through the creation of home-based businesses. The Foundation's annual operating budget and overhead will continue to be supported 100 percent by Whole Foods Market, which also invests $1 million annually to support microlending programs.

"Businesses developed with loans from the Whole Planet Foundation Supplier Alliance for Microcredit will be as diverse as agricultural production, animal husbandry, pastry and bread making, sewing, textile and other handicraft work," explains Philip Sansone, President and Executive Director of Whole Planet Foundation. "Microlending is a tangible path to individual economic prosperity, allowing individuals a chance to lift themselves out of poverty through their own ingenuity and hard work."

The microloan system, pioneered by Dr. Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank and utilized by the Whole Planet Foundation, enables borrowers to earn an income and create economic stability through their own entrepreneurial efforts, creating a self-sustaining system. Loans are repaid and then available for re-use, contributing to the economic stability of the entire community. Loans as small as $100 make a significant impact on the lives of the very poor, who often live on less than one dollar a day and can serve as the catalyst to create and expand microenterprises.

"We are so honored that each of the companies in the Whole Planet Foundation Supplier Alliance for Microcredit have joined forces with Whole Planet Foundation to plant seeds of economic prosperity through these microlending programs," said John Mackey, CEO and Co-founder of Whole Foods Market. "Microlending is a direct and tangible path to economic prosperity, and we thank each of these companies for their commitment."

Whole Planet Foundation is running marketing campaigns in all U.S. Whole Foods Market stores during March in appreciation of the Supplier Alliance Partners.

Support from the Whole Planet Foundation Supplier Alliance for Microcredit will concentrate on women who make up the majority of the world's poor and are economically and socially marginalized. Women have the greatest impact on their communities when given access to credit as they tend to invest in their families and education for their children. Providing them access to loans and a support system empowers them and their families to use their creativity to change their lives.

About Whole Planet Foundation(R)

The Whole Planet Foundation's mission is to create economic partnerships with the poor in those developing-world communities that supply Whole Foods Market stores with product. The mission is achieved through innovative assistance for entrepreneurship, including direct microcredit loans and tangible support for other community partnership projects. The Whole Planet Foundation represents a significant expansion of Whole Foods Market's mission to actively participate in our communities. With more than 270 stores, we now have the scale and scope to give back to the global community. The creation of this foundation directly connects Whole Foods Market customers and Team Members to the villages in developing countries that supply us with products. Establishing these community partnerships will contribute to the economic well being of everyone involved. From the beginning, entrepreneurial spirit has been a driving force behind Whole Foods Market's success. In keeping with this spirit, Whole Planet Foundation is dedicated to helping families escape poverty by providing them with access to capital which they can use to start their own small businesses.

About Allegro Coffee Company(R)

Founded in 1977, Allegro Coffee Company is considered by specialty coffee industry experts to be one of America's premiere coffee roasters and distributors. Allegro's entire approach to coffee is based on sustainable agriculture and the preservation of the traditional, handcrafted ways to grow, roast and brew great-tasting coffee. Allegro Coffees are available at all Whole Foods Markets, as well as select hotels, restaurants and coffeehouses nationwide.

About Back to Nature/Balance Bar(R) * (participating as one partner)

Back to Nature Foods Company believes in eating closer to nature through foods made with nature's finest ingredients, foods that taste the way that nature intended. Back to Nature foods do not contain artificial flavors or preservatives, hydrogenated oils, or high fructose corn syrup. Back to Nature Foods Company was founded in 1960 in Pasadena, California.

Founded in 1992, Balance Bar is a leading maker of nutrition and energy bars, committed to spreading the power of positive energy through its products and activities. Just as Balance Bar products help to provide people with the energy to fuel them through their busy, active lives, so can people who come together for a common cause help fuel the world with their positive energy. It is with this spirit in mind that Balance Bar is proud to join the Whole Planet Foundation's Supplier Alliance in its work to make a difference through microlending programs in developing countries. For more information on Balance Bar and its great tasting, nutritious products, including the Balance Original, Balance Gold, and Balance Bare lines, please visit

About The Hain Celestial Group

The Hain Celestial Group (Nasdaq: HAIN), headquartered in Melville, NY, is a leading natural and organic food and personal care products company in North America and Europe. Hain Celestial participates in almost all natural food categories with well-known brands that include Celestial Seasonings(R), Terra(R), Garden of Eatin'(R), Health Valley(R), WestSoy(R), Earth's Best(R), Arrowhead Mills(R), DeBoles(R), Hain Pure Foods(R), FreeBird(TM), Plainville Farms(R), Hollywood(R), Spectrum Naturals(R), Spectrum Essentials(R), Walnut Acres Organic(R), Imagine(R), Rice Dream(R), Soy Dream(R), Rosetto(R), Ethnic Gourmet(R), Yves Veggie Cuisine(R), Granose(R), Realeat(R), Linda McCartney(R), Lima(R), Grains Noirs(R), Natumi(R), JASON(R), Zia(R) Natural Skincare, Avalon Organics(R), Alba Botanica(R), Queen Helene(R), Tushies(R) and TenderCare(R). Hain Celestial has been providing "A Healthy Way of Life(TM)" since 1993. For more information, visit

About ITO EN

Established in 1966 in Japan and positioned as the world's leading supplier of green tea leaves & green tea beverages, ITO EN(North America) INC. was founded in May 2001 with the mission of introducing authentic green tea products and cultivating an interest in tea culture in the United States and beyond. With a history of innovation spanning four decades, ITO EN has been an industry leader in developing the first, entirely natural ready-to-drink green tea beverage -- Oi Ocha -- carefully preserving its distinct flavor and integrity. In 2002, the TEAS' TEA line of natural, unsweetened bottled tea was launched for the U.S. market, embodying ITO EN's five principles -- Natural, Safe, Healthy, Well-Designed and Delicious. Recognized with many awards for its quality products and a standard of excellence, ITO EN is committed to bringing an authentic tea culture while being a responsible corporate entity. For more information on ITO EN and products, please visit

About The Naked(R) Juice Company and Stacy's(R) Pita Chip Company (participating as one partner)

Naked(R) Juice Company, a leader in the super-premium juice category, was founded and first marketed towel-to-towel on the beaches of Santa Monica, Calif. in 1983. The beverages in the Naked Juice line of all-natural, 100% juice, fruit juice smoothies and protein smoothies are made from the best bare-naked fruits and boosts with no added sugar of preservatives. Naked Juice can be found in supermarkets, club stores, health food stores and neighborhood markets throughout the nation. Naked. Nothing to Hide(TM)

Stacy's Pita Chip Company was founded in 1997 by a social worker and a psychologist with a passion for good food and a commitment to good health. The couple originally owned a food cart in downtown Boston serving all-natural pita roll-up sandwiches. As an incentive for customers to wait in line, they baked pita bread into gourmet flavored chips. The chips became remarkably popular and before long, Stacy's Pita Chip Company was born. Today, Stacy's (R) Pita Chips are available in six great flavors. And now, Stacy's (R) Bagel Chips are also available at Whole Foods Markets. All Stacy's products are Baked, All-Natural, and totally delicious. For more information on Stacy's, visit our website:

About New Chapter(R)

New Chapter was founded in 1982 with a mission to promote healing through the infinite wisdom of whole foods. We believe Nature got it right the first time. That is, nourishment, protection and health come from whole food -- not from the synthetic vitamins, minerals and chemical herbal isolates you'll find in most supplements. In fact, we hesitate to even categorize New Chapter products as food supplements. Rather, New Chapter is supplemental food, because it is food. Located in Brattleboro, Vermont, we carry the distinction of being the supplement industry's first certified organic manufacturer to produce vitamins and minerals made with organic ingredients. We are also committed to supporting and protecting the environment, and our Costa Rican farm, Luna Nueva, is a world model for organic sustainable agriculture in the rain forest. For more information on New Chapter, visit

About Seventh Generation(R)

Seventh Generation is committed to being the most trusted brand of household and personal-care products for your living home. Our products are healthy and safe for the air, the surfaces, the fabrics, the pets, and the people within your home -- and for the community and environment outside of it. For 20 years, the closely held Burlington, Vermont company has been at the forefront of a cultural change in consumer behavior and business ethics. One of the country's first self-declared "socially responsible" companies, Seventh Generation is a business that operates according to a new and different set of principles and values that in many ways are a marked departure from those long considered "traditional." Its business practice is focused on offering people avenues to express their idealism, passion, and commitment to causes larger than themselves at every point along its supply chain -- from suppliers and partners to shareholders, customers and its own staff. The company derives its name from the Great Law of the Iroquois that states, In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations. For information on Seventh Generation cleaning, paper, baby and feminine personal care products and to find store locations, visit

About Whole Foods Market(R)

Founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market ( is the world's leading natural and organic foods supermarket and America's first national certified organic grocer. In fiscal year 2007, the company had sales of $6.6 billion and currently has more than 270 stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The Whole Foods Market motto, "Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet"(TM) captures the company's mission to find success in customer satisfaction and wellness, employee excellence and happiness, enhanced shareholder value, community support and environmental improvement. Whole Foods Market, Fresh & Wild(TM), and Harry's Farmers Market(R) are trademarks owned by Whole Foods Market IP, LP. Wild Oats(R) and Capers Community Market(TM) are trademarks owned by Wild Marks, Inc. Whole Foods Market employs more than 50,000 Team Members and has been ranked for ten consecutive years as one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" in America by FORTUNE magazine.


Donnell Dianne Ocker


SOURCE Whole Planet Foundation (Whole Foods Market Foundation)
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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