Nutrition Now supports the community it has grown in

The company doesn’t budget for giving, rather it tries to meet needs as they arise

Nutrition Now, owned by Kate Jones and Martin Rifkin, has grown from a small business to today having 250 employees in its 20-year history in Clark County. And as the business has grown, so has the company’s charitable giving.

The manufacturer of vitamins and supplements has become one of the biggest supporters of Clark County’s Share, a housing and emergency services organization. Each year, Nutrition Now buys and wraps presents for men, women and children for Share to provide to homeless people in the community. This year, the company is providing more than 350 gifts.

When Share, along with Washington State University Vancouver, began a summer program last year to support kids who receive free lunch during the school year, Nutrition Now stepped up to sponsor free lunch for each of the kids in the program.

The company is also an ongoing sponsor of an elementary school in its neighborhood, Peter S. Ogden Elementary School, and Washington State School for the Blind.

"A lot of focus (of the business) is on children, so kids are really important to us," said Jones.

When these organizations or others are in need, they know they can approach Nutrition Now to help out in any way they can.

"That is typically what we do; we ask them ‘where is your need,’ because they work with the kids in the programs, and they know what they need." said Jones. "And we will either purchase that for them or donate the money to the program."

At Peter S. Ogden, for instance, Nutrition Now has donated money for computers, playground equipment and to support a reading program.

The company also encourages participation by its employees, whether through volunteering time to support Share or matching funds. Nutrition Now employees donated $3,250 to the Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, which was matched by the company.

Aside from monetary donations, the company donates inventory to Northwest Medical Team and Catholic Medical Mission.

VBJ: Why is philanthropy important to you as a business owner?

Kate Jones: This is our community and we have built a business here with great employees. We are happy to be in the community and we feel that we should give back. The community has given us so much, supported us and been such a great place to grow our business. When we started we were so much smaller and we have been able to thrive here in Clark County. If you make that part of your corporate philosophy, people will also engage in that.

VBJ: Why do you enjoy it personally?

Jones: There is really nothing that can compare to helping another person. Buying a pair of shoes is nice, but buying a pair of shoes for a kid that needs it is beyond description. The feeling that you get is worthwhile.

VBJ: Why do you give in the way that you do?

Jones: We don’t have set requirements. If somebody is in need and they let us know, we try to help them. Our giving is based on need; it’s not budgeted. If there is a need we try to match it, and we are happy to do it.

VBJ: What do you hope your donated time and money will achieve?

Jones: A better Clark County.

VBJ: Is the business community’s role in giving as big as it should be?

Jones: I think we can always do more and I think we should all try to do more. As we grow, hopefully we will be able to give back more.

(Ed. note: Vancouver Business Journal publisher John McDonagh is volunteer president of Share.)


Window closing on KETRA tax break
President Bush signed into law the Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act, which temporarily suspends the usual limits on charitable deductions. Generally, individuals are limited to deducting 50 percent of adjusted gross income to charity, but under KETRA, cash contributions made for any charitable purpose between Aug. 28, 2005 and Dec. 31, 2005 may deduct up to 100 percent. The legislation applies to contributions made to all qualified charities, and is not limited to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

Other provisions of KETRA include:

• Distributions from qualified retirement plans – not just IRAs – can be used for charitable purposes, and any penalties are waived.

• 3 percent itemized deduction reduction is temporarily eliminated when donor’s adjusted gross income exceeds $145,950.

• Donors in higher AGI brackets will receive more equitable income tax benefits when making cash contributions prior to Dec. 31.

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