Doing Well By Doing Good: Our Journey to Nourish One Million Minds

Doing Well By Doing Good: Our Journey to Nourish One Million Minds

By John P. Bilbrey, Chairman of the Board, President & Chief Executive Office, The Hershey Company

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016 - 3:05pm

At Hershey, we are proud of our tradition of excellence as an organization, but even more proud of the work we do to make a difference in society.

This fall, these efforts were recognized when Hershey was named to the 2016 Dow Jones Sustainability Index, one of only seven food and beverage companies to make the list, and I had the privilege to represent the entire Hershey organization by accepting the esteemed Benjamin Botwinick Prize in Business Ethics from Columbia University.

“Doing well by doing good” is a concept that is embedded in the fabric of Hershey.  This simple principle was championed by our founder, Milton S. Hershey – one of this country’s greatest entrepreneurs and philanthropists, and is alive and well today.  This legacy of shared goodness and model of social commerce continues to guide our efforts.

I will retire as CEO next summer, but will remain as chairman of the board.  I take pride in the work our people have done together during my time with this amazing company to redefine what social innovation means at Hershey and how we can make an even more powerful impact within our communities.  

We’ve learned that the best way to make a difference is by leveraging those things we do best. A year ago, Hershey launched Nourishing Minds – our shared social purpose to provide children in the United States and abroad with the basic nutrition they need to learn and grow. We are using our expertise in food production and processing to provide much-needed nutrition to children while working with local communities in the U.S., Ghana, China to build a food secure future.

Our employees around the world are bringing Nourishing Minds to life in their communities and the marketplaces where we work. Nourishing Minds is more than just philanthropy; it is embedding the Hershey purpose of Bringing Goodness to the World further into how we do business. Our goal is to nourish one million minds by 2020. It’s ambitious, but we are off to a great start:

Supporting Child Hunger Programs in the U.S.

In the United States, we support Feeding America’s school backpack programs, school pantries and Kids Café, which help to expand and improve child nutrition and hunger programs focused on the times when kids are not in school. Our employees also volunteer at their local food banks to upgrade facilities and sort food, pack backpacks and harvest vegetables from community gardens. The food banks we funded provided more than 109,250 meals to approximately 13,230 children throughout the year.

We are expanding our partnership with Feeding America by strengthening our focus on local child hunger programs.

Addressing Malnutrition in West Africa

Our signature Nourishing Minds program is focused on improving nutrition for students in West Africa, where we source the majority of our cocoa.  Specifically, in Ghana, where 23 percent of children are stunted due to malnutrition and 57 percent are anemic, our Energize Learning program partners with the Ghana School Feeding Program and Project Peanut Butter to provide access to nutrition, to increase school enrollment, attendance and retention, and to boost domestic food production. By developing and distributing a nutritious peanut-based supplement called Vivi, we are now helping improve the nutrition of 50,000 Ghanaian children per day.

We also began to build local capacity to source, produce and distribute Vivi in Ghana by training farmers and rehabilitating a peanut roasting facility. 

With Partners in Food Solutions (PFS) and Root Capital, we are helping local food processors and millers in Ghana get the expertise and financial resources needed to set up operations locally.   This will contribute to the community’s economic development, nutrition and food security. This year, a number of our Hershey employees shared their expertise with four local food companies in Ghana to help them achieve self-sufficiency.

We expect to add five to 10 more companies during the next 12 months and will expand our work with PFS and Root Capital to help food companies in Ivory Coast as well.

Improving Access to Nutritious Meals in China

In China, we recently launched a new partnership with the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA) to improve access to nutritious meals and provide nutrition education for children in the Henan Province.

Our China team will support the rehabilitation of about a dozen school canteens to establish the “Love Kitchens,” which includes adding modern cooking equipment to give kids more variety and healthier meals. Construction is underway for the “Love Kitchens,” which will also reduce the environmental hazard of wood-burning cook-stoves.

Helping End Child Hunger in Canada

We are also supporting kids’ nutrition in Canada by partnering with Food Banks Canada and its new After the Bell initiative, which seeks to end child hunger. Our funding and volunteer efforts will support summer meal packs as well as Food Explorers – a brand new program focused on empowering school-age children to build knowledge and confidence around food and nutrition, basic kitchen skills and meal preparation.

Childhood nutrition is one of the most serious global challenges. We believe we can make a difference by focusing on local solutions that address the unique needs and situations in each country and community. We have more work ahead of us, but I couldn’t be more proud of what our employees are doing to make a difference by providing basic nutrition to help children learn and grow.

Nourishing Minds benefits not only the communities we serve, but also our business operations. This social focus allows us to apply our knowledge and resources and affords us the opportunity to learn about key markets important to our business about new business models, and enriches the experience of working at Hershey for our employees.

Learn more about our Nourishing Minds journey and how our purpose-driven business brings goodness to the world.

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