Eckrich, Operation Homefront and Mariano’s Partner to Honor Illinois Military Family

LISLE, Ill., May 25, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Eckrich, the makers of naturally hardwood smoked sausage and savory deli meats, partnered with Mariano’s and Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit whose mission is to build strong, stable, and secure military families, to honor a Glendale Heights, Ill. military family on Wednesday.

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

Eckrich hosted a special presentation outside a Mariano’s store in Naperville, Ill. to honor, thank and support the Zapata family. The family was surprised with a gift of $5,000 in free groceries at Mariano’s, courtesy of Eckrich.

As part of the event, crowds of shoppers were treated to samples of delicious Eckrich smoked sausage and deli meat, live country music and an appearance by Chicago country radio station 99.5. In addition, Eckrich provided local military service members and their families with $25 Mariano’s gift cards to thank them for their service.

Francisco Zapata served three tours in Iraq with the Marine Corps between 2004 and 2007. His wife, Jackie, is his caregiver and a member of the Operation Homefront Hearts of Valor® program. The family has three children.

“This is amazing for our family,” said Francisco Zapata. “I’m speechless that Eckrich and Mariano’s have come together to do this. It’s not just us out there, but it’s the family that we leave behind, too. It’s nice to see families being recognized and we are really thankful.”

The surprise is part of the ongoing campaign by Eckrich to honor, thank and support military families through its partnership with Operation Homefront. The Zapata family is supported by Operation Homefront’s Hearts of Valor® program, a network of caregivers for wounded, ill or injured service members. Operation Homefront supports these caregivers through annual retreats, support groups and online communities.

Eckrich, a brand of Smithfield Foods, in its fifth year of partnership with Operation Homefront, has donated more than $2 million to the organization since 2012. Now through July 4th, Eckrich is donating 5 cents for every purchase of specially marked products, up to $500,000, to Operation Homefront to assist military families.

“Eckrich continues to thank, support and honor our military families across the country,” said Chuck Gitkin, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Smithfield Foods. “These families make great sacrifices and we appreciate Mariano’s partnership and support for military families. Today, we were proud to thank the Zapata family for their service and 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 $14 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®, Nathan's Famous®, Farmland®, Armour®, Cook's®, John Morrell®, Gwaltney®, 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 builds strong, stable, and secure military families so that they can thrive in the communities they have worked so hard to protect. With more than 3,200 volunteers nationwide, Operation Homefront has provided assistance to tens of thousands of military families since its inception shortly after 9/11. Recognized for superior performance by leading independent charity oversight groups, 92 percent of Operation Homefront’s expenditures go directly to programs that provide support to our military families. For more information, go to

Contact: Faye Shroff Breaking Limits for Eckrich Cell: (704) 591-4353 E-Mail:

Source:Smithfield Foods