The Hershey Company has launched a new global purpose that will provide children in the U.S. and abroad with the basic nutrition that is necessary for them to learn and grow. This new initiative is being referred to as Nourishing Minds.
In the U.S., 15 million children struggle with hunger. Abroad, more than 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, including 23 million in Africa. By using expertise in food production and making great tasting snacks, Hershey will feed children in need today and give their communities necessary resources to ensure food security in the future. The goal is to nourish one million minds by 2020.
“Since our founding, we focused on giving children the skills, education and support they need to succeed,” said J.P. Bilbrey, chairman, president and CEO of The Hershey Company. “As our company continues to grow globally, we are continuing to focus on this same shared social purpose by expanding our efforts with the creativity, skills and passion of Hershey employees around the world. We believe that bright futures start with basic nutrition, and our global social purpose is grounded in putting strategic action behind our belief.”
Global malnutrition is an incredibly complex issue that no single organization – public, private or non-profit – can address alone. Through Nourishing Minds, Hershey will work with public and private partners to make an impact in three key areas: basic nutrition for children, agriculture and food systems, and research and development.
In the U.S., Hershey is partnering with Feeding America and its child nutrition programs, including The Backpack Program, which provides backpacks full of food for children in need to take home over the weekend, as well as the School Pantry and Kids Café programs. Hershey is supporting Feeding America member food banks in six cities across America this year, with plans to grow the partnership over time.
“Children should not have to worry about where they will find their next meal. Yet, one in five struggle with hunger in America,” said Nancy Curby, vice president of corporate partnerships at Feeding America. “With Hershey’s support, we are able to provide more meals to children in need, which is critical to their growth and development.”
This week, Hershey is marking the launch of this global commitment with events in Ghana, West Africa. Hershey is partnering with the Ghana School Feeding Programme and Project Peanut Butter for Energize Learning, the flagship Nourishing Minds program in West Africa. The program aims to improve nutrition for students, to increase school enrollment, attendance and retention and to boost domestic food production. A cross-functional team of Hershey employees developed Vivi, a vitamin and mineral-fortified nutritional supplement that will be distributed to 50,000 Ghanaian school children by 2016 through Energize Learning.
“In working with Hershey, we are now able to provide children in school with a locally produced, nutritious snack that helps give them the energy they need to focus on their studies,” said Hon Seidu Paakuna Adamu, national coordinator of the Ghana School Feeding Programme. “Hershey is a valuable partner in helping us make sure that the children of Ghana reach their full potential.”
This week’s events build on Hershey’s Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action to promote sustainable nutrition in Ghana by improving peanut farming, announced on September 29. Hershey will train 7,500 Ghanaian farmers on improved agronomic practices, empowering them to supply local commercial markets with safe and high-quality peanuts. By 2018, Hershey will source 100% local peanuts for the production of Vivi.
To get communities the resources they require to ensure food security for future generations, Hershey is also joining Partners in Food Solutions (PFS), a non-profit organization that links the technical and business expertise of volunteer employees to small and growing processors and millers in the developing world. In West Africa, Hershey is working on the ground with Root Capital, a non-profit social investment fund that grows rural prosperity in poor, environmentally vulnerable places in Africa and Latin America by lending capital, delivering financial training and strengthening market connections for small and growing agricultural businesses. Together, they will combine the expertise of a global organization with the financial resources local businesses need to grow. With Hershey’s support, this is the first time PFS can expand its model to West Africa.
As Nourishing Minds expands in the future, the programs, volunteer opportunities and industry collaborations will look different in each country Hershey works and does business.