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Hormel Foods Hosts Top Student Winners of its Annual MLK Essay Contest


Austin, Minn.

Hormel Foods employees commemorate MLK Day and Black History Month with essay competition for U.S. elementary and middle school students

Three top winners of the ninth annual Hormel Foods Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Contest visited the Hormel Foods corporate office today to read their winning essays to employees of the global branded food company. The students – Sinan Sarihan Zafer Elvin from Oak Grove Elementary in Atlanta; Nailah Beachem from Chapel Hill Middle School in Atlanta; and Ashlyn Rose Bryant from Lonoke Middle School in Little Rock, Ark., – claimed top honors in a contest between more than 1,000 entries from 19 schools. Their visit marks the third time in as many years that Hormel Foods has invited essay winners to its Austin, Minn., headquarters for a reading.

The Hormel African American Resource Group (HAARG) sponsors the annual essay contest to honor the vision and work of the slain civil rights leader. The assignment is the same each year; students must write a brief narrative about what King’s teachings mean for them today. HAARG members read every essay that gets submitted, choosing five finalists from each school, from which one first-place finisher for each school is selected.

“For nine years we have asked students to learn, reflect and personalize the message of Dr. King and what it means to them,” said Tommy Swearingen, HAARG president. “Every year, the essays are an inspiration to our team, and we couldn’t be prouder of the heartfelt writings of everyone who submitted. There are five winning essays chosen from each school, and today, three of our top prize-winning students were able to read their essays to our team members in Austin and throughout the company via live-streaming.”

The competition is intended to bring to light the value and importance of cultural differences and provides a platform for celebrating diversity. The goals of the program are to promote Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy, encourage children to aim high, give them exposure to minority professionals in corporate America and to create a lasting partnership between Hormel Foods and local schools. Elementary and middle schools across the country are invited to join the competition.

About Hormel Foods – Inspired People. Inspired Food.

Hormel Foods Corporation, based in Austin, Minn., is a global branded food company with over $9 billion in annual revenues across 75 countries worldwide. Its brands include SKIPPY®, SPAM®, Hormel® Natural Choice®, Applegate®, Justin’s®, Columbus®, Wholly® guacamole, Hormel® Black Label® and more than 30 other beloved brands. The company is a member of the S&P 500 Index and the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats, was named one of “The 100 Best Corporate Citizens” by Corporate Responsibility Magazine for the 11th year in a row, and has received numerous other awards and accolades for its corporate responsibility and community service efforts. In 2016, the company celebrated its 125th anniversary and announced its new vision for the future – Inspired People. Inspired Food.™ – focusing on its legacy of innovation. For more information, visit and