Thursday, May 3, 2012

UNCLE BEN'S® Brand Awards 10-Year-Old $20,000 Cash Prize, $50,000 School Cafeteria Makeover

UNCLE BEN'S® Brand Awards 10-Year-Old $20,000 Cash Prize, $50,000 School Cafeteria Makeover For Inspiring Families To Cook, Eat Together

Tim Snyder, Uncle Ben's vice president of marketing, presents check for $50,000 cafeteria makeover to Sydney Fialkow, Ben’s Beginners™ Grand Prize Winner, and administrators at The Epstein School.

Rancho Dominguez, Calif. (May 3, 2012) /PRNewswire/ — Sydney Fialkow, 10, and her mother Stacy, 41, of Atlanta were named the grand prize winners of the Ben’s Beginners™ Cooking Contest. The playful nationwide competition, sponsored by the UNCLE BEN’S® Brand, the number-one selling brand of rice in the United States, was designed to empower and encourage parents to connect with their kids one meal at a time.

Sydney Fialkow was selected from a field of more than 700 contestants (ages 5-12) who videotaped themselves preparing a kid-friendly rice dish and discussing the experience of cooking with their parents. The contestants were narrowed to four finalists, from which the Fialkows were selected as the grand prize winners. The Fialkow family has won a $20,000 cash prize and a $50,000 cafeteria makeover for The Epstein School, located in Sandy Springs, Ga., where Sydney attends as a fourth grade student.

“The goal of Ben’s Beginners™ is to celebrate how cooking with your kids leads to better relationships with food and with each other. Sydney and her family truly exemplify this message,” said Tim Snyder, vice president of marketing, Mars Food US, the parent company of the UNCLE BEN’S® Brand. “This family uses meal time to cook new recipes, try different ingredients, connect with each other and have fun. We hope other families are inspired by the Fialkows to cook together more frequently, which we believe is fundamental to giving children a healthy beginning in life.”

The UNCLE BEN’S® Brand has also awarded each of the three runners up: the Mancebo family of Turlock, Calif., the Mullix family of Wesley Chapel, Fla., and the Sullivan family of Nyack, NY, with a $5,000 savings bond earmarked for each child’s college education and a $10,000 donation for each child’s school cafeteria.

The Epstein School celebrated their hometown hero by hosting a viewing party of “The Rachael Ray Show” on which the news of the Fialkow’s Ben’s Beginners™ Cooking Contest win was announced. The school’s celebratory assembly included a cooking demonstration in which Sydney prepared her winning recipe, “Sydney’s Chicken & Rice,” for her classmates.

“I’m so happy that we won…I can’t believe it. I couldn’t have done it without all of you,” Fialkow said to a crowd of Epstein School students during the afternoon viewing party. “I feel proud that I was able to give this gift to my school too. I can’t wait to see our newly renovated cafeteria.”

A ceremonial check was presented by Snyder to The Epstein School administrators Stan Beiner, head of school, and Jane Escalera, food service director. “I’m so thrilled Sydney was able to win this contest for our community and our school,” said Escalera. “Our cafeteria hasn’t been renovated in more than 15 years, so this donation will make a big difference for our school and our students.”

The Ben’s Beginners™ Cooking Contest is an extension of the global Begin With Ben™ campaign, which made a grain of rice a hero for better eating and family togetherness. The campaign visually illustrates the journey of a single grain of rice to a family’s dinner table and encourages consumers to consider rice as a great beginning to any meal – versus simply a side dish. For more information about the UNCLE BEN’S® Brand products, kid-friendly recipes and nutrition information, visit

About the UNCLE BEN’S® Brand

UNCLE BEN’S®, the number one rice brand in America, is proud to offer a wide range of rice dishes with flavors and textures that will help bring more to your meals, both for convenient side dishes and savory main courses. UNCLE BEN’S® offers a wide variety of white, whole grain brown, and flavored rices in cook times ranging from 30 minutes to 90 seconds, as well as rice for food service operations such as restaurants, schools and hospitals. The first mass-produced parboiled rice, UNCLE BEN’S® is the top-selling branded rice in the United States and products can be found in more than 100 countries worldwide. UNCLE BEN’S® Brand products are manufactured by Mars Food NA, part of Mars, Incorporated. For more information, visit

Media Contact:

Sydney Siegmeth
Porter Novelli

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