Eckrich, Operation Homefront and Aric Almirola Give Thanks to Southern California Military Family

LISLE, Ill., March 21, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Eckrich, the makers of naturally hardwood smoked sausage and savory deli meats, partnered with Albertsons and Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit whose mission is to build strong, stable, and secure military families, to honor a Southern California military family in advance of the big race in Fontana on Sunday.

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

Before the race, Richard Petty Motorsports driver and Eckrich partner, Aric Almirola, surprised the unsuspecting Desma family with $5,000 worth of free groceries at Albertsons, courtesy of Eckrich.

Eckrich, Operation Homefront and Richard Petty Motorsports have partnered to honor military families since 2012. Almirola, who is a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner, was born on a military base and, as a father of two, is inspired by our military families.

“It’s amazing to hear their stories and how much they have sacrificed,” said Almirola. “It’s an honor to give back to them. I grew up in a military family and understand the sacrifices that have to be made. And, now, as a father of two children myself, I’m even more inspired by our military families. They are our real heroes.”

"It's a blessing what Eckrich did for us today," said Frank and Maryann Desma. "It's so special to have the opportunity to not only meet Aric Almirola and see the race, but for the awesome gift of $5,000 in groceries to Albertsons. We want to thank everyone."

The surprise is part of the ongoing campaign by Eckrich to honor, thank and support military families through its partnership with Operation Homefront. The Desma family is supported by Operation Homefront’s Hearts of Valor® program, a network of people caring for wounded, ill or injured service members.

Frank Desma served 18 years in the Army as a Sergeant and served in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Eckrich, entering the fifth year of partnership with Operation Homefront, has surpassed $2 million in donations since 2012.

“Once again, Aric Almirola and Richard Petty Motorsports have partnered with Eckrich to give thanks to our military families,” said Chuck Gitkin, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Smithfield Foods. “We also thank Albertsons for joining us as we continue in our mission to thank and support military families across the country. We thank the Desma family and are proud to present them with $5,000 in free groceries.”

For more information about Eckrich, please visit

About Eckrich

Founded by Peter Eckrich in 1894, Eckrich has a rich heritage starting from a small meat market in Fort Wayne, Ind. Through it all, Eckrich meats have been recognized for their great taste and supreme quality, craftsmanship, care and pride. For more information, visit

About Smithfield Foods

Smithfield Foods is a $15 billion global food company and the world's largest pork processor and hog producer. In the United States, the company is also the leader in numerous packaged meats categories with popular brands including Smithfield®, Eckrich®, Farmland®, Armour®, Cook's®, John Morrell®, Gwaltney®, Nathan's Famous®, Kretschmar®, Margherita®, Curly's®, Carando® and Healthy Ones®. Smithfield Foods is committed to providing good food in a responsible way and maintains robust animal care, community involvement, employee safety, environmental and food safety and quality programs. For more information, visit

About Operation Homefront

A national nonprofit, Operation Homefront leads more than 2,500 volunteers with nationwide presence who provide emergency and other financial assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors. Operation Homefront has provided assistance to thousands of military families since its inception in 2002. Recognized for superior performance by leading independent charity watchdog groups, nationally, 92 percent of Operation Homefront’s expenditures go directly to programs that provide support to our military families. For more information, go to

About Richard Petty Motorsports

A performance and marketing driven company, Richard Petty Motorsports, co-owned by NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty and successful business entrepreneur Andrew Murstein, is one of the most recognized brands in all of motorsports. With a history of over 200 wins and business partnerships with national and global leaders, today the race operation fields two teams in competition in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with drivers Aric Almirola and Brian Scott. Almirola will return to the iconic No. 43 Ford with partners Smithfield Foods, STP, United States Air Force and the “Fresh From Florida” campaign. Scott will make his debut with the team and drive the Petty Family No. 44 Ford. Albertsons Companies, Shore Lodge, Twisted Tea and will join Scott as he competes for Rookie of the Year in his first full-time season in the Sprint Cup Series. Richard Petty Motorsports will also field the No. 43 Ford Mustang in the NASCAR XFINITY Series with driver Jeb Burton, who will compete for Rookie of the Year in his first full-time season with partner J. Streicher. The team is headquartered in Mooresville, N.C.

Contacts: Jeff Dennison Breaking Limits for Eckrich Cell: 704-252-3356 E-Mail: Heather Lumpp Richard Petty Motorsports Cell: 847-302-5509 E-Mail:

Source:Smithfield Foods