A few years ago, agricultural behemoth The Wonderful Company was taking flak for the disparity between the lifestyles of its billionaire owners and the laborers who live in Lost Hills working their fields.
But now, after years of investing millions of dollars into the rural farming town where at least 50 percent of homes house a Wonderful employee, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center is recognizing the company. It named The Wonderful Company winner of the 2016 Corporate Citizenship Award in the Best Community Improvement Program category late last week.
“The Wonderful Company is a true community partner to the people of Lost Hills,” Marc Decourcey, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center, said. “Their strategic and sustainable investments in Lost Hills will positively impact the community for years to come.”
The Wonderful Company, the agricultural conglomerate behind PomWonderful, Wonderful Pistachios and Fiji Water, among other brands, has pumped more than $15 million into Lost Hills since 2010, around the time The Earth Island Journal published a story highlighting the lifestyle disparities between The Wonderful Company’s employees and owners Lynda and Stewart Resnick.
That’s when the Resnicks began investing in Lost Hills. They put town members to work paving roads and sidewalks, constructed bus shelters and erected two community centers for Lost Hills’ 2,412 residents.
They financed and built the town’s first sit-down restaurant, which is located on Wonderful Company land. The park the company constructed boasts two soccer fields, a volleyball and basketball court and playgrounds. It’s named “Wonderful Park.”
Most recently, the company won approval to construct a charter school for kindergarten through second-grade students, with plans to introduce a high school in town. Teenagers are currently bused 40 minutes east to Wasco.
Lynda Resnick and Wonderful Company officials have consistently said that education is the next step in creating lasting change in Lost Hills.
The Citizenship Award honors businesses for “significant positive impacts in communities across the world,” illustrating how businesses “serve as a powerful force for good,” according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“All of us at The Wonderful Company are honored to be recognized by the Chamber with their prestigious Citizens Award,” Resnick said.
She added that as a leading employer in the Central Valley, the company is dedicated to giving back where employees live.
“Nowhere does that promise ring truer than in Lost Hills,” she said.