How poverty inspired Jennifer Garner's company

Actress Jennifer Garner's upbringing in West Virginia has inspired her work to fight rural poverty, and she has since launched an organic baby food company.

Posted: Oct 30, 2018 1:14 PM
Updated: Oct 30, 2018 1:37 PM

The rigid policies of many workplaces can be hard on families — especially those with young children. But an organic baby food company aims to change that.

Once Upon a Farm, which makes organic cold-pressed baby food, apple sauces and smoothies, offers its employees at least 12 weeks of paid family leave, unlimited vacation days and flexible telecommuting schedules.

The company was started in 2015 by entrepreneurs Cassandra Curtis and Ari Raz. Last year, John Foraker, the former CEO of organic food company Annie's Homegrown joined as CEO, and actress Jennifer Garner joined as chief brand officer.

Foraker was at Annie's for almost two decades, and is taking the lessons he learned along the way with him to Once Upon a Farm.

One of his biggest regrets at Annie's, for example, was not offering a paid family leave plan.

"We had at Annie's these amazing moms that worked for us and built this brand," Foraker told CNN's Poppy Harlow in an interview for Boss Files. "And then I think of the challenges that they had when they had their kid and they had to deal with all the issues of figuring how to gap coverage and all that."

Creating a paid family leave policy was a top priority for the founders at Once Upon a Farm. New parents get 12 weeks of paid leave, and new mothers get an additional six weeks for recovery.

"All of the women who are coming into their power are also coming into motherhood at the same time," Garner told Harlow. "It's part of what makes it so incredibly hard to make these decisions to keep moving up."

The company also supports the FAMILY Act. That proposed legislation would create a nationwide insurance program that offers up to 12 weeks of leave for family and medical purposes with partial pay.

"We want to lead there and be out on the front edge of that. We think there should be legislation around that, and we think there's a lot of bipartisan support for it. We want to be a company that stands for that," said Foraker.

Foraker knew early on that Once Upon a Farm needed a clear corporate mission.

"At Annie's ... I didn't define our mission and values early enough," he said. Despite joining the company in 1998, it wasn't until the mid-2000s when he created a clear mission.

"Then our business [at Annie's] took off because it helped us really define who we would hire and how we would act with each other," he said.

Not willing to repeat this mistake with Once Upon a Farm, Foraker and Garner sat down and hashed out their mission: "To nurture our children, each other and the earth in order to pass along a healthier and happier world for the next generation."

In addition, they also laid out the company's core values: honesty, integrity, transparency and respect.

"We have a really strong set of core values and we hire people that we know will represent those values," Foraker said.

The company itself is still in its infancy with 38 full-time employees — around 80% of them female.

"We all are utility players," said Garner. "We all wear a ton of hats. I love being in at the beginning so that I am emboldened and kind of forced to jump into the fray ... in a world that maybe in the beginning, I wasn't as comfortable with."

Giving workers flexibility with their schedules and time off has also helped the company create a better sense of work-life balance for its employees.

"In order to be a successful working woman and have any semblance of balance, you need to have a certain amount of flexibility and a huge amount of trust," said Garner.

The company also has an unlimited vacation policy and flexible telecommuting schedules.

"We're just a performance culture. We say: 'Here's what we want to do. We want to do it together. I trust you as a person to make decisions about how you use your time,'" Foraker said.

The company's products are sold in more 8,500 locations, including Target, Walmart, Whole Foods and Kroger stores.

While making fresh and nutritious food accessible to everyone is part of the mission, the pouches can sell for around $3 each. The company said it's working to create a line of specific products with a lower price point that would be eligible for some government-assisted food programs.

"We do care about these women and these moms and these kids and we believe that their kids have just as much of a right for this fresh, healthy start as our kids do," said Garner.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1011197

Reported Deaths: 16524
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1359292129
Lake666181167
Allen58254802
Hamilton46498467
St. Joseph44559617
Elkhart36044510
Vanderburgh32333481
Tippecanoe28037260
Johnson25196446
Hendricks23960360
Porter22985367
Madison18820410
Clark18609253
Vigo17530303
Monroe15319200
LaPorte15230252
Delaware15127264
Howard14801290
Kosciusko12410149
Hancock11773176
Bartholomew11695180
Warrick11305189
Floyd11138215
Wayne11023253
Grant10131220
Morgan9506177
Boone8965116
Dubois8281131
Henry8252153
Dearborn823493
Noble8064106
Marshall7981135
Cass7556123
Lawrence7479172
Shelby7216119
Jackson700990
Gibson6614115
Harrison651892
Huntington6447100
Knox6427106
DeKalb6363100
Montgomery6293112
Miami595298
Putnam584179
Clinton579271
Whitley568455
Steuben566876
Wabash5363104
Jasper536180
Jefferson513297
Ripley501987
Adams483777
Daviess4684115
Scott439875
Greene427296
Clay426960
Wells426088
White420964
Decatur4177104
Fayette407387
Jennings390262
Posey377544
LaGrange361778
Washington360451
Randolph3476100
Spencer340743
Fountain336160
Sullivan330852
Starke319171
Owen315571
Fulton313468
Orange295064
Jay285546
Franklin266443
Perry265752
Rush263832
Carroll262434
Vermillion259854
Parke232029
Pike229643
Tipton229059
Blackford195042
Pulaski184657
Crawford160125
Newton159848
Benton151217
Brown147047
Martin139319
Switzerland135311
Warren121416
Union107216
Ohio84613
Unassigned0544

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1524169

Reported Deaths: 23955
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1646591696
Cuyahoga1468932459
Hamilton1056051431
Montgomery742551279
Summit620221111
Lucas56539917
Butler51696718
Stark468601064
Lorain35783585
Warren32903377
Mahoning30927693
Clermont28271330
Lake27179448
Delaware24263164
Licking24027294
Trumbull22993561
Fairfield22438247
Greene22414326
Medina22149313
Clark19920354
Richland18643292
Portage18073252
Wood17505224
Allen16054279
Miami15627306
Muskingum14890185
Columbiana14153274
Wayne13852271
Tuscarawas12777311
Marion12016180
Scioto11497162
Pickaway11386142
Erie10951184
Ross10614203
Ashtabula9809204
Lawrence9783153
Hancock9741155
Belmont9333209
Geauga9008157
Jefferson8600199
Huron8427143
Union822259
Washington8114144
Sandusky7875151
Athens779579
Knox7766144
Darke7695158
Seneca7405145
Ashland6993130
Auglaize681799
Shelby6540115
Brown640091
Crawford6292130
Defiance6241105
Mercer617893
Fulton605196
Highland602899
Guernsey596371
Madison595678
Logan594596
Clinton585193
Preble5730125
Putnam5354110
Williams530888
Perry519863
Champaign514273
Jackson512473
Ottawa490586
Coshocton488383
Morrow460558
Pike435067
Fayette430363
Hardin420780
Gallia419367
Adams417995
Van Wert374082
Henry366972
Holmes3653125
Hocking357582
Wyandot325262
Carroll304365
Paulding280747
Meigs267251
Monroe216254
Noble201247
Morgan194333
Harrison182646
Vinton167225
Unassigned05
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 44°
Angola
Partly Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 43°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 44°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 44°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 43°
After a soggy couple of days, the sunshine returns Tuesday and highs top out in the middle 50s.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events