Healthy Eating Lifestyle Principles (HELP), founded in 2004 by Basil Mills, president of Mills Family Farms, Salinas, Calif., has recently incorporated as an independent 501c (3) organization and named its first board of directors.

HELP is a nonprofit organization working to combat the obesity epidemic and encourage increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Under the leadership of executive director Mike Pippi, the company promotes healthy eating and physical activity in our schools and in our community, offering free nutrition education classes and wellness programs and tools to schools and businesses throughout Monterey County.

The organization's directors include leaders from agriculture, healthcare, education, government departments and community service agencies. “HELP is a conduit organization bringing community leaders together to work actively in partnership to grow a healthier community,” said HELP executive director Mike Pippi.

Board members include:

Leslie Sunny, executive director, Food Bank for Monterey County; Tricia Vincent, chief clinical dietitian, C.H.O.M.P.; Alan Mello, Mello Media; Beverly Ranzenberger, senior VP/COO, Salinas Valley Memorial Health Care System.

Cynthia Poole, chief clinical dietician, Salinas Valley Memorial Health Care System; Nancy Kotowski, associate superintendent, Educational Services Division, Monterey County Office of Education; Basil Mills, president, Mills Family Farms.

Donna Ferraro, executive director, Boys and Girls Clubs of Monterey County; Jim Bogart, executive director, Grower Shipper Association; John R. Baillie, Jack T. Baillie Co.; Gina Marie Nucci, director of Food Service Marketing, Mann Packing Co.

Jim Nakashima, executive director, Housing Authority of Monterey County; Cindy Weigelt, executive director, American Heart Association; Rhonda Williams, Realtor; Mike Pippi, president/executive director, Healthy Eating Lifestyle Principles.

HELP began as an agricultural initiative and existed in its first year as part of the Grower-Shipper Association Foundation.