Reducing hunger and childhood obesity: Campbell Soup reports on progress against its 2020 goals.
By Amanda Bauman, Manager of Community Affairs, Campbell Soup
The goal set was ambitious… a bit lofty even. The term 'big hairy audacious goal' (BHAG) sprung to mind. But no matter what your reaction when reading Campbell’s 2010 CSR report, our 2020 destination goal for Nourishing Our Neighbors probably incited a reaction similar to this:
“Now, how exactly do they plan to do that?”
Trust me, staring at those words on a piece of paper two years ago I had the same reaction. Followed quickly by an overwhelming sense of panic.
But now, two years later, on the eve of Campbell’s 2012 CSR report, I feel proud of the progress we have made. There is a long way to go to reach the pinnacle of our goal: Measurably improving the health of young people in our hometown communities by reducing hunger and childhood obesity by 50 percent. But we are headed in the right direction.
Here are some highlights of our journey to this audacious goal:
Campbell’s Healthy Communities
For starters, we launched our signature program, Campbell Healthy Communities, in Camden, N.J., our company’s birthplace and hometown for more than 140 years. Known as one of the most dangerous and impoverished cities in America, Camden serves as an excellent testing ground for determining the keys to success in battling hunger and childhood obesity. A self-pronounced food desert with alarming childhood obesity rates topping 40 percent, Camden provides an interesting case study.
We launched our $10 million, 10-year commitment in February 2011, working with a cross-section of programmatic partners, a citywide coalition of institutional stakeholders and a limited number of schools and daycares. Our main focus is on four key areas:
- Access to nutritious and fresh foods,
- Access to safe places to play,
- Nutrition education, and
- Building public will.
Our approach is simple – an inch wide and a mile deep. We are taking calculated risks with the intention of learning from our mistakes so we can build a program that drives real impact.
Nourish: Introducing a "Meal in a Can"
In tackling the hunger crisis in our communities, my colleagues at Campbell Canada have taken their Campbell Causes to heart by developing Nourish, a nutrient-dense, "meal in a can" – specifically designed for direct donation. What started as a group of employees brainstorming on how to activate their “cause” of alleviating hunger became an innovative game-changing product.
The vegetable variety of Nourish packs in two full servings of vegetables and 18 grams of protein into a 15 ounce can – a perfect supplement to food bank inventories. The product also does not need to be heated, making it ideal for donation in disaster relief situations.
The initial run of Nourish included a 200,000-can donation to Food Banks Canada with 100 percent of our net profits from the sale of Nourish funding hunger relief efforts.
We are the first to admit that our pockets aren’t endless and we have to think creatively when supporting the good work of our community partners. On par, if not better, than our financial resources are our people. In 2011, our employee volunteer program collectively logged 23,000 hours benefitting 215 organizations, a 25 percent increase over the prior year.
But numbers are just numbers until you dive a bit deeper.
Employees did not just paint rooms and clean up parks, they directly engaged in efforts to alleviate hunger and childhood obesity by packing kids packs full of food during the summer months, making casseroles for donation to soup kitchens, gleaning produce and even teaching nutrition education to underserved youth.
While we are making progress…
…there is more work to be done. The 2012 CSR report [stay tuned!] highlights some major accomplishments in our road to reducing hunger and childhood obesity by 50 percent in our hometown communities, but it also highlights the challenges.
For one, while we have a commitment to driving measurable results from our community investments, saying it is the easiest part. Creating a downward trend in impact measures such as body mass index is an uphill battle. And, it is still tough to report the impact of volunteering actions such as packing and distributing back packs of food or gleaning thousands of pounds of produce.
While challenging, however, we're committed to quality reporting and to continually raising our game in our effort to nourish our neighbors. We are, after all, a critical component of our community.
And family looks after family.
About Amanda Bauman
Amanda Bauman is the Manager of Community Affairs at Campbell Soup Company, responsible for Campbell's global employee volunteer program, Nourishing Our Neighbors, which has received national recognition by the Points of Light Institute. She also manages Campbell’s community initiatives such as the employee giving campaign, Dollars for Doers program, disaster relief and more.
In addition, she is the Program Director for the Campbell Soup Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Campbell Soup Company, where she manages relationships with hundreds of local nonprofits, monitors and evaluates grantees, coordinates bi-annual grant cycles and manages the distribution of $1.6 million in grants annually. She sits on the CSR Community Strategy Team and works with a cross-functional team of employees to set strategic direction for the company's overall CSR platform.