LOS ANGELES (June 6, 2013) – Thanks to shoppers of Whole Foods Market ‘s Southern Pacific region — which includes stores throughout Arizona, Hawaii, Southern California and Nevada — thousands in developing countries will have a chance at a better life. From Feb. 20 to March 31, 2013, 48 participating stores throughout the region were able to raise $676,917 for Whole Planet Foundation’s Prosperity Campaign.

Shoppers were invited by their local Whole Foods Market stores to donate online and at checkout, as well as participate in various in-store events, including charity dinners and silent auctions — all to support the foundation’s efforts to alleviate poverty in communities worldwide, specifically in areas where Whole Foods Market sources its products.

Through grants to microfinance institutions in 57 countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America, and the U.S., Whole Planet Foundation currently funds microcredit loans to more than 260,000 clients with a repayment rate of 97 percent.

“We are inspired by our shoppers and their dedication to the mission of the foundation and this campaign, which is to empower the poor living in developing-world communities with microcredit and the chance to create or expand a home-based business to lift themselves and their families out of poverty,” said Hilary Maler, Whole Foods Market Southern Pacific Region associate marketing coordinator. “With the recent opening of Grameen America — one of Whole Planet Foundation’s microlending partners — in Los Angeles earlier this year, we are excited to partner with them further to help others benefit from Whole Planet Foundation-supported microcredit loans.”

Whole Foods Market’s Woodland Hills store in California took the Prosperity Campaign to the classroom and donated ingredients to Taft High School’s food class to make a Whole Planet Foundation microcredit client-inspired recipe, Githiri, a Kenyan corn and bean stew. In addition to learning how to cook this vegetarian stew, the 220 students from the class learned about the foundation and the importance of microloans, and generously donated a total of $162 to Whole Planet Foundation — enough to fund one first-time microloan.

In San Diego, Calif., Whole Foods Market’s Hillcrest store partnered with local vendors to host “Party for the Planet,” a fundraiser for the Whole Planet Foundation at local café, Caffé Calabria. Attendees were able to enjoy a tasty selection of food and drink, as well as participate in a silent auction and raffle. The event raised $5,161, which will fund close to 32 first-time microloans.

To date, Whole Planet Foundation has committed more than $37 million and disbursed $24 million worldwide, supporting more than 1.5 million people with a chance for a better life.

For more information about the foundation or upcoming fundraising opportunities, visit wholeplanetfoundation.org.