Our Volunteers Have an Award-Winning Impact

by Claudine Galloway, Corporate Communications Manager at General Mills
May 22, 2017 9:05 AM ET

Taste of General Mills

Every day, around the world, our employees choose to spend some of their time volunteering for organizations and projects they are proud to support.

Of those volunteer opportunities that primarily deal with food, our sweet spot, Second Harvest Heartland, keeps us coming back again and again. The organization has been a General Mills partner for more than three decades.

Last year, General Mills employees contributed 1,945 volunteer hours – almost a year’s worth of 40-hour weeks – largely at the Second Harvest Heartland warehouse in Golden Valley, Minnesota.

Our combined volunteer hours with Second Harvest Heartland represent an 80 percent increase from the previous year.

“Those hours include our Let’s Kick Hunger event and our Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration called Bring Your Child to Serve Day. That’s in addition to financial support,” says Rob Zeaske, CEO of Second Harvest Heartland.

As a result, Second Harvest Heartland awarded General Mills a 2017 Hunger Hero award during a March ceremony. (See our employees in action at Second Harvest Heartland, in this video clip).

“We’re honored to have a strong base of support from General Mills employees to help us ensure that our neighbors don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from,” says Zeaske. “We can’t do the work we do without phenomenal and extremely generous partners like our General Mills volunteers.”

Second Harvest Heartland’s impact, last year alone, included providing 80 million meals distributed to nearly 1,000 food shelves, pantries and other partner programs.

Through continued financial support from the General Mills Foundation, Second Harvest Heartland is also playing a lead role to coordinate the sharing of excess fresh produce beyond their 59-county service area, reaching the entire Midwest region.

The goal is to capture the greatest amount of available, unharvested produce, provide a consistent, year-round supply and increase the variety of produce for clients, food shelves and community feeding agencies.

Last year, General Mills’ investment helped Second Harvest Heartland achieve 53 percent fresh food distribution, with produce constituting nearly 32 percent of food distributions.

As I said, Second Harvest Heartland isn’t the only place where General Mills employees dedicate their time.

Last week marked our eighth annual “Think Global, Volunteer Local” week, with hundreds of employees in several countries taking part.

Near our corporate headquarters, volunteer activities in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota ranged from preparing outdoor vegetable gardens for spring planting at Youth Farm, taking down an exhibition at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, creating worm and compost bins at Open Farms, and reading to children at a YMCA.

“For this year’s TGVL, we went back to our roots, and associated with Earth Day, aligning with our Foundation focus areas of advancing sustainable agriculture and increasing food security in local communities,” says Minn Wang, senior manager of the General Mills Foundation.

According to the 2017 General Mills Global Volunteer Survey, 83 percent of employees volunteered in the past year.

“Given the national volunteer rate in America is only around 25 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is no comparison to the level of commitment our employees demonstrate in serving their communities,” says Minn.

“I’m always amazed by the heart and enthusiasm we see from General Mills employees who give back to their communities here and around the world,” Minn says.