HERSHEY, PA. — The Hershey Co. is “bringing Nourishing Minds to life” in communities and marketplaces around the world, said John P. Bilbrey, chairman, president and chief executive officer of the Hershey-based company. Launched in October 2015, Nourishing Minds is a global social initiative seeking to provide children in the United States and abroad with the basic nutrition that is critical for them to learn and grow. Hershey has set a goal to nourish one million children by 2020.
Through Nourishing Minds, Hershey said it plans to 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.
|John P. Bilbrey, chairman, president and c.e.o. of Hershey|
“We’ve learned that the best way to make a difference is by leveraging those things we do best,” Mr. Bilbrey wrote in a Nov. 29 blog posting. “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.”
Through the initiative, Mr. Bilbrey said Hershey is supporting Feeding America’s school backpack programs, school pantries and Kids Cafe, which help to expand and improve child nutrition and hunger programs focused on the times when children are not in schools. In addition, he said Hershey’s employees volunteer at 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,” Mr. Bilbrey said. “We are expanding our partnership with Feeding America by strengthening our focus on local child hunger programs.”
Hershey’s Nourishing Minds program also has made headway in addressing malnutrition in West Africa. Hershey, which sources the majority of its chocolate from West Africa, has helped improve the nutrition of 50,000 Ghanaian children per day by developing and distributing a nutritious peanut-based supplement called Vivi, Mr. Bilbrey said. The company also has started to build local capacity to source, produce and distribute Vivi in Ghana by training farmers and rehabilitating a peanut roasting facility, he said.
“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,” Mr. Bilbrey noted. “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 5 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.”
In China, Hershey is helping to improve access to nutritious meals by launching a partnership with the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation.
“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,” Mr. Bilbrey said. “Construction is under way for the ‘Love Kitchens,’ which will also reduce the environmental hazard of wood-burning cook-stoves.”
Mr. Bilbrey said Hershey is supporting children’s nutrition in Canada by partnering with Food Banks Canada and its new After the Bell initiative.“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,” he said. “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.”