The brand is partnering with four of the top culinary programs across Canada to provide $200,000 over two years to students who identify as Black, Indigenous or Persons of Colour to help them complete their education. According to Mars, the award is “designed to help students overcome inequitable financial barriers and positively affect the pathway to employment and advancement within the food industry.” The funds are available to culinary students at Vancouver Community College, Humber College, Centennial College and Institut de tourisme et d'hôtellerie du Québec. The Seat at the Table fund also runs in the U.S. and U.K.
The brand has also donated more than $250,000 worth of food to its long-term local partner, Caledon Community Services, located in Bolton, Ont. where Ben’s Original rice is made.
The Canadian launch of Ben’s Original is supported by a global marketing campaign, “Everybody’s Original.” The first commercials feature a collection of six real families who gather around the table for their favourite meals featuring Ben’s Original. The families include a Black nuclear family, a pair of friends, three roommates, a single-parent family, a family that uses sign language and a multi-generational Pakistani family. The idea is to show the unique recipes, traditions and interactions that make each of the real families original.
“It’s a celebration that everybody is an original, and I think that’s universal,” says Huston. “We want the spot to come through as incredibly authentic, which is why we use real consumers.”