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Today's word on journalism

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Paranoia means having all the facts."

--William S. Burroughs, Beat Generation writer (1914-1997)

Richmond's Pepperidge Farm is an exemplar of cultural diversity

By Jason A. Givens

September 25, 2006 | RICHMOND -- Pepperidge Farm is not just a factory making cookies and little goldfish-shaped crackers. It is a melting pot of diversity.

Inside that melting pot are the faces of a changing world, faces of a world growing smaller, faces of people searching for a better life. The diversity at Pepperidge Farm is extensive. People from all over the world work there. There are people from Germany, Spain, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, China, Ghana, Somalia, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Brazil and many other places.

The diversity can be seen in more than just ethnic backgrounds or country of origin. Diversity in religion is present as well. There are Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and people who don't believe in God. There are gay and lesbian people and straight people too.

Even that guy who played the bully in the film Napoleon Dynamite works there.

One of the faces that can be seen in the melting pot is that of Savrin Eng. Eng has worked at Pepperidge Farm for 25 years. He came to the United States as a refugee from Cambodia. Eng said he had to run for his life.

He said he liked Cache Valley and decided to stay here because it is small and he felt safe here. He said he also liked it because he could attend Utah State University and learn more about American culture.

Eng said he likes Pepperidge Farm because they pay pretty good for the area and when compared with the cost of living in other places he can make a good living. He said he's able to save money, has good benefits and Pepperidge Farm helped pay for his education through a tuition assistance program.

Another face in the melting pot is that of Frank Okyere. Okyere is from Ghana and lived in Italy for several years before coming to the U.S. He said he speaks five different languages. He has lived here for eight years and began working at Pepperidge Farm about a month ago. Okyere said he worked at E. A. Miller in Hyrum for seven years. He said he likes his new job a lot better and that he makes more money in one week now than he did in two weeks at Miller's. Okyere said when he worked at Miller's he would come home so tired that he couldn't eat and now he eats like a cow.

"If you have a sense for what diversity really means you won't think about race, but inclusiveness," Albert C. Jones said, speaking to a journalism class at USU on Thursday. Jones is the publisher of The Diversity Times, a new monthly newspaper covering diversity in Utah.

He said a lot of people are trying to embrace diversity and trying to embrace people who are different than they are. "We enlarge ourselves by being accepting of other people," Jones said.

Susan Owen, manager of human resources and employee relations at Pepperidge Farm, said there are 460 employees at the Richmond plant and that the total minority population at the plant as of April 2006 is 23.7 percent. She said it breaks down to 0.2 percent black, 11.3 percent Hispanic, 11.5 percent Asian and 0.7 percent Native American. Owen also said 60 percent of their workforce is female.

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