A Task Bigger than Texas

Recently, Jim Rice, Division Vice President of Sprouts had the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua with the Vitamin Angels team where he witnessed the impact of his team's efforts firsthand.

By Elysia Cook

You could say that Jim Rice’s role at Sprouts Farmers Market is the size of Texas. And that's more than a figure of speech: for the past two years, as the company’s Division Vice President, Central Division, he has overseen operations for the entire Lone Star state, as well as that of Colorado and Oklahoma.

Recently, Jim had the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua with the Vitamin Angels team where he witnessed the impact of his team's efforts firsthand. The experience reinforced for him the importance of Sprouts’ partnership with Vitamin Angels and made him proud to hold a leadership position within the company.

“It was an unbelievable experience, and I’m very proud of what our company does, and what Vitamin Angels does,” he said. “We at Sprouts are committed to our mission to empower every person to live a healthier life. I was proud to represent the company and show that we really stand by that.”

The weeklong trip also gave him a rare chance to act as an observer, rather than a leader. He enjoyed stepping back and watching as the community health promoters – trained by AMOS Health & Hope, Vitamin Angels' field partner – took charge.

 

Jim was quick to praise the AMOS team, noting “how they identify these promoters from within the communities, and how they make the communities be part of their plan.” He added, “It’s not just shipping vitamins or medications as a ‘one-and-done.’ The fact that they’re teaching them the basics—how to take their vitals and blood pressure, how to dispense the prenatal multivitamins, making the community part of the solution—I thought was very impactful.”

As Jim learned, this approach also allows individuals to feel a sense of pride and accountability for their work.

As a father and grandfather himself, Jim was struck by the nearly palpable bond that connected families and the communities.

Jim was quick to praise the AMOS team, noting “how they identify these promoters from within the communities, and how they make the communities be part of their plan.”

"They’re teaching them the basics—how to take their vitals and blood pressure, how to dispense the prenatal multivitamins, making the community part of the solution.”

Jim had the chance to spend time playing with some of Valentin's grandchildren and many others during the local vitamin distributions the team attended.

“There was a president of the community; one of the things he was so proud about was that he took an active role in supporting some of these house visits,” Jim recalled. “He was almost supervising, doing surprise visits just to make sure they were being done correctly.”

“This one gentleman, Valentin, had a sparkle in his eye…he was probably one of the few that impacted me more than anything else, how happy and content he was,” Jim recalled. On top of that, “He had fifty grandchildren! It’s safe to say I don’t think I’ll ever meet another person who has fifty grandchildren.”

Jim had the chance to spend time playing with some of Valentin's grandchildren and many others during the local vitamin distributions the team attended. “I’m not the first guy to go play with kids because it’s been so long since I’ve had kids,” he said. “But once we started playing, it was extremely rewarding.”

The trip, Jim said, left him more inspired than ever to advocate for our partnership through his leadership position. Although Sprouts already shares the power of our work, he believes there’s even more potential to do so. “The more we can explain how our partnership with Vitamin Angels impacts these areas [like Nicaragua], and share these stories, the more people we’ll get on board,” he said.

Being a champion for public health may be a task as big as Texas, but if anyone is up for the challenge, it’s individuals like Jim on behalf of partners like Sprouts, and community leaders like those we met in Nicaragua.

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