At Festival Foods, we take our commitment to helping our associates and improving our communities very seriously. Actually, they're among our company's core values, which we discuss frequently as part of our continuous improvement mindset. That commitment to helping our communities and the people in them goes back decades to the very beginning of Festival Foods. You see it in the programs we support across the state, the fireworks we organize in more than a dozen communities and also the events we sponsor, which range from concerts to road races.
In October, Festival Foods announced its $10,000 donation to the CAMDEN Playground Renovation Project the day before our store in Janesville officially opened. The contribution will help provide an update of the local playground, which is almost 100% accessible for children with special needs and was one of the first of its kind in the world when originally built in 1993.
You also can see our commitment to community in each checkout aisle of our stores, which host those green recycled Food for Neighbors bags. The Food for Neighbors program started in July 2004 at just seven stores and has grown with us as we have added locations across the Badger state. We're thrilled to report that since it's inception, that program has raised more than $1 million! The program allows guests to “purchase” our green recycled bags for either $5 or $10 at a register when they’re checking out. A cashier will scan that amount into your grocery order. That funding -- all $1,065,861 raised over nearly 12 years — goes toward providing food to stock the shelves at local pantries in our communities. It's a way to help local pantries stock their shelves with canned items, fresh vegetables, meat and other products they need to sustain their food supplies. Our company neither takes a commission nor does it charge an administrative fee on this program.
At times, our associates even help load up food pantry trucks with donated items.
The contributions for this program not only come from our generous guests, but also from our company's "Jeans Day" program in which Festival Foods associates who agree to contribute $1 a month get to wear denim jeans on the last Friday of each month. Just this year -- from Jan. 1 to March 31, our guests purchased 2,879 Food for Neighbors $5 and $10 bags. An additional $8,575 in funding came from our Jeans Day program, which provided $30,595 in groceries for those in need. We're so proud of the effort -- from both our amazing guests and our hard-working associates -- that went into reaching this incredible milestone! And we're looking forward to continuing doing great things with this program. If you've got questions about Festival Foods' sponsorships or donations, just go online here.