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8 Companies Working to Eliminate Hunger


With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.

Thursday, Oct. 16, is World Food Day -- an annual day of action against hunger. Commemorating the creation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on Oct. 16, 1945 in Quebec, Canada, WFD asks people to come together in their commitment to eradicate hunger in their lifetimes.

An estimated 805 million people, one in nine worldwide, live with chronic hunger -- a startling statistic that underscores the importance of action on the issue. While spreading awareness on World Food Day is great, it takes year-round action to secure real change. With that in mind, this week we're tipping our hats to eight companies that are working to eliminate hunger worldwide.

1. Panera Bread

Popular bakery-cafe chain Panera Bread has put a focus on hunger relief from the start. At the end of each day, all Panera Bread locations donate unsold bread and baked goods to local hunger relief agencies. You've likely noticed its Panera Cares Community Breadbox at your neighborhood branch, where the company collects donations from patrons and distributes the funds to local nonprofits in partnership with Feeding America.

The chain is also famous for its Panera Cares Community Cafes, nonprofit locations that provide hot meals to anyone -- whether they can afford to pay or not. The cafes – operated by the Panera Bread Foundation, a separate nonprofit entity – are "meant to raise the level of awareness about food insecurity in this country, while also being a catalyst for change in our communities," the company said.

2. Darden Restaurants

Darden Restaurants, the Fortune 500 restaurant giant known for brands like Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Bahama Breeze, began its Darden Harvest program in 2003 to rescue food from landfills and get it to those in need. With full participation from all Darden restaurants, the program has donated more than 77 million pounds of surplus food – totaling more than 100 million meals – to hungry families since its inception.

The program also allows the company to divert 11 million pounds of food -- which may have passed internal sell-by dates but is still wholesome and perfectly fit for human consumption -- from landfills each year, a key component to achieving the company's goal to one day send zero waste to landfills.

3. Kellogg

Kellogg has been working to fight hunger for more than 30 years. As part of its Breakfasts for Better Days initiative, the company will donate 1 billion servings of cereal and snacks in support of global hunger relief by the end of 2016. The company donates, on average, more than $20 million worth of food products for hunger and disaster relief each year, in partnership with food bank networks across the globe.

In the U.S., Kellogg partners with hunger relief agencies, primarily Feeding America, to donate its products to those who need it most. Through the Feeding America partnership, Kellogg has donated more than 200 million pounds of food in the past decade alone -- and has helped provide more than 221 million meals through food and fund donation since 1983.

4. Yum! Brands

Yum! Brands, the world’s largest restaurant company famous for chains like Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC, created its World Hunger Relief program eight years ago. A personal passion for CEO David Novak, the program aims to feed hungry people while raising awareness, volunteerism and funds for the United Nations World Food Program, which receives 100 percent of donations.

The program has raised more than $185 million in cash and food donations and provided nearly 750 million nutritious meals for hungry families. The effort spans 130 countries and leverages 40,000 KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurants and 1.5 million employees around the world, the company said.

5. General Mills

General Mills has partnered with Feeding America for more than 30 years. Through the partnership, the company not only funds critical hunger relief programs, but also provides significant food donations and engages employee and retiree volunteers. In partnership with Feeding America, the company has also created campaigns like Outnumber Hunger to support local food banks and generate action across the network.

6. Morgan Stanley

This year, Morgan Stanley launched Healthy Cities, a program designed to coordinate the wellness, nutrition and play resources that give children a healthy start in life. Collaborating with national and local nonprofits, Healthy Cities "helps connect otherwise separate programs and creates a linked package of wellness education and screenings, nutritious foods, and safe play spaces for children in neighborhoods in need," Feeding America said.

Together with Feeding America, Morgan Stanley’s efforts will provide more than 10 million meals and 50 million servings of fresh produce for children. Morgan Stanley employees play a critical role in the partnership, Feeding America says, by delivering strategic planning advice, research assistance, executive counseling and hands-on volunteer engagement nationwide.

7. Cisco

For 11 years, Cisco has matched its employees' volunteer time and donations to address hunger and food insecurity around the world. Its annual Global Hunger Relief Campaign supports more than 160 nonprofits and NGOs to deliver millions of meals.

Last year, Cisco employees worked 44,000 volunteer hours at hunger relief and nutrition nonprofits. With the company tripling all donations made by employees and other donors, the campaign raised $5.7 million for charitable organizations last year -- enough to provide 23 million meals to hungry people around the world.

8. Walmart

In 2010, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation launched Fighting Hunger Together – a $2 billion cash and in-kind commitment through 2015 to fight hunger in America. The company has already reached $260 million in cash and $2.6 billion in in-kind donations, delivering on its commitment one year early.

Through the program, Walmart donated more than 571 million pounds of food – the equivalent of 369 million meals – in 2013 alone. Hunger relief efforts have also been one of the company's most popular employee volunteering platforms, with 4,100 employees volunteering more than 13,000 hours toward hunger relief efforts in 2013.

Of course, there are many more companies that are hard at work on this critical issue. If you know of a company or organization that deserves recognition but isn't included on this list, please tell us about it in the comments section!

Image credit: Panera Bread

Based in Philadelphia, Mary Mazzoni is a senior editor at TriplePundit. She is also a freelance journalist who frequently writes about sustainability, corporate social responsibility and clean tech. Her work has appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News, the Huffington Post, Sustainable Brands, Earth911 and the Daily Meal. You can follow her on Twitter @mary_mazzoni.


Mary Mazzoni headshotMary Mazzoni

Mary Mazzoni has reported on sustainability in business for over a decade and now serves as managing editor of TriplePundit. She is also the general manager of TriplePundit's Brand Studio, which has worked with dozens of brands and organizations on sustainability storytelling. Along with 3p, Mary's recent work can be found in publications like Conscious Company, Salon and Vice's Motherboard. She also works with nonprofits on media projects, including the women's entrepreneurship coaching organization Street Business School. She is an alumna of Temple University in Philadelphia and lives in the city with her partner and two spoiled dogs. 

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