Companies that give back, get back. 

Philanthropy is a word of Greek origin meaning “love of mankind.” But it’s not just that love driving businesses to do good. Corporations with charitable missions forge connections with cause-conscious consumers. They also boost employee engagement and job satisfaction.

Many brands are familiar with the benefits of philanthropic projects and are already taking action on important issues. Here are some within the food industry that are currently making a difference in our communities. 

Food insecurity

An estimated 40 million Americans, including 12 million children, are fighting a battle against hunger and food insecurity. And few industries are better positioned to tackle this challenge than food manufacturers. 

  • Chobani paid off $85,000 in school lunch debt for the Twin Falls School District, which is located near the company’s newest yogurt plant. That gift allows the school to continue serving 5,600 lunches and 2,100 breakfasts daily and frees up more of its budget for educational use.  
  • Seeds of Change, the organic food brand of Mars, donated $115,000 to Building Bridges Across the River (BBAR) to help close the food gap in Wards 7 and 8 of Washington, DC. These areas are considered a food desert — there’s only one grocery store for the 85,000 residents of Ward 8. Mars’ donation helps BBAR grant food access to the region through its food and nutrition classes and urban gardening programs.    
  • With a recent contribution of 40,000 pounds of macaroni and cheese, Land O’Lakes is helping nonprofit Second Harvest Heartland alleviate hunger for residents of Minnesota and western Wisconsin. 

Education

They say it takes a village to raise a child. And these food companies are doing their part to support the next generation by providing school resources and learning opportunities.  

  • Since 1992, King Arthur Flour has been running its free Bake for Good: Kids program, teaching grades four through 12 to make bread from scratch while working on math, science, and reading skills. King Arthur provides the flour and materials, and once the loaves are baked, the students learn to give back to their communities by donating the bread to those in need. More than 350,000 students have participated in this program since its start.
  • With a shortage of engineering and tech professionals in the food industry and beyond, many companies have decided to invest in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) education, giving children the opportunity to learn about career opportunities in these fields. Smithfield Foods is one company that’s giving back in this way. Recently, the company made a $350,000 contribution to FUSE Studios, a program aimed at STEAM exploration for middle and high school students in rural communities.
  • Snack company Utz Quality Food also chose to support STEAM learning this year. The brand made a $200,000 donation to mechatronics programs at school districts near its home base in Hanover, PA. As the Superintendent at Conewago Valley School District said, “This donation will support our program to provide more students with the skills they need to succeed while building a pipeline of potential employees for the manufacturing industry.”

Disaster relief

From wildfires to powerful storms and flooding, many parts of the country experienced devastating loss this year. Here are a few food companies that took part in the recovery efforts. 

  • In February, Clif Bar & Company launched its CLIF Second Responder Fund to assist with disaster recovery. The idea behind “second” response is to continue to support community restoration long after rescue crews have completed their work and media outlets have moved on. The fund’s first project supports animals and wildlife affected by the Camp Fire disaster with a $1.5 million donation toward construction of the new Butte Humane Society facility.  
  • Flooding in March resulted in an estimated $400 million in crop loss and $500 million in livestock loss for the state of Nebraska alone. In response, Tyson Foods sent its disaster relief team, Meals that Matter, to the region and delivered 126,000 pounds of protein to hunger relief organizations in Nebraska and Iowa. The company gave an additional $1.8 million toward hunger relief efforts in 14 states. 
  • Adding to the Midwest’s misfortune this spring are the record-setting tornadoes of April and May. Nearly 500 tornadoes touched down in a 15-day period, leaving hundreds of families homeless and thousands more without power. Nestle Purina is one of the companies jumping in to help those impacted by this extreme weather. The pet care brand donated $25,000 to cover costs associated with rescue efforts in the region. They also donated more than 3,500 pounds of dog and cat food and 6,000 of cat litter to support area pet owners and rescue organizations.

Of course, this is just a snapshot of food companies doing good work across the country, and more will follow. Consumers are paying attention to companies’ corporate social responsibility efforts, and giving back is becoming essential to the growth and success of every business.