Take a step back and look at the communities where you live and work. Do you see opportunities to donate food and share your knowledge of nutrition outside of your office? With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, we saw a rise in food insecurity and financial uncertainty. This made me reflect on how Campbell sets a high standard when it comes to community outreach efforts. I sat down with Campbell Sr. Manager of Community Affairs, Kate Barrett, to learn more about Campbell’s commitment to improving the health of local communities. These initiatives may spark your desire to get involved, share your expertise in a new way, and make a real difference in your community!
Transfer food surplus to those in need
Reducing food waste and increasing food access frequently go hand in hand. On a large scale, food companies like Campbell can make an impact by regularly donating food and beverages directly from manufacturing plants and by supporting food donation and rescue organizations, just as they have done with their $5.8 million food and cash donation to support their hometowns during the pandemic.
For example, on college campuses, the Food Recovery Network, brings together students to reduce food waste by recovering perishable food from dining facilities and then transferring it to those in need. Another organization, Food Rescue US uses an app to connect those with surplus food to volunteers who rescue the food and bring it to agencies that serve those in need. In addition, Feeding America® manages and facilitates food donations with initiatives like MealConnect™, which gives donors an easy and safe way to get surplus food to neighbors in need. Not all waste reduction efforts need to be large scale. In response to the pandemic, some households may have bought more than they needed. Take inventory of buying habits and consider ways to shop leaner. Then make donations to local food banks.
Idea for Action: Explore opportunities in your area by visiting any of the above noted organizations for opportunities to donate or volunteer.
Improve access to nutritious foods
One of Campbell’s community commitments is aimed to help create an environment where all students have access to real, nutritious food. Barrett explains, “Campbell helps fund organizations like Food Corps and Wellness in the Schools that work to help procure nutritious foods, provide education and train staff. Programs like these take a group of engaged partners who work collectively to achieve a common goal in order to attain success.”
Idea for Action: Look for partnership opportunities between your local farmers and your school district. Encourage qualifying schools to explore federal assistance programs like The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.
The Healthy Corner Store Initiative is another program Campbell supports. In conjunction with The Food Trust, among other partners this outreach effort provides corner stores support procuring and marketing healthy foods for consumers, in an environment with historically limited nutritious food options. Barrett shares, “About 40% of corner stores in Camden, NJ are enrolled in the initiative and 83% reported an increase in sales of healthy items.”
Idea for Action: Explore opportunities to improve nutritious offerings and donations at your local food pantries or soup kitchens. Consider volunteer opportunities at organizations like Meals on Wheels.
Promote nutrition & culinary education
Providing food is only part of the equation. Nutrition education is vital to improve the health of communities. Programs like Cooking Matters® help bring it all together for families by providing cooking instruction and exposure to nutritious, affordable meals. Ericha Grace, MS, NDTR, Nutrition Scientist, shares, “I volunteered with Cooking Matters® over the past few years and it’s such an awesome experience. Each ‘semester’, we would provide nutrition lessons and cooking classes in our Consumer Test Kitchen (led by the Food Bank of South Jersey) and prepare recipes related to different food topics. It is always so rewarding to see kids learning, trying, AND enjoying nutritious foods! Some students came in claiming they only like corn but left saying they love kale and peppers.”
Cathedral Kitchen is a community-based program in Camden, NJ, that not only provides over 100,000 meals to those in need annually, but also provides culinary training for job readiness. Participants receive support from culinary and nutrition experts at Campbell and some training even occurs in Campbell test kitchens!
Idea for Action: Share your knowledge of nutrition by seeking out volunteer opportunities to create or present nutrition education or a cooking class within your community.
Think outside the box to help your community
Recently, Campbell Nutrition Scientist, Elise Deming, MS, RDN, developed her own creative, charitable project by teaming up with other nutrition and culinary experts to develop a recipe e-book, donating all proceeds, over $1,020 to date, to Feeding America®, in response to COVID-19. Giving your time, expertise or money is so rewarding. If you’re looking for an existing opportunity check out local community gardens, food pantries, schools, and senior centers that may need volunteers. See how setting goals and timelines for commitments to your community can help keep you on track and measure success!
Kate Williams received her bachelor's degree in dietetics from the University of Delaware and completed her dietetic internship at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. She has over ten years of experience in a variety of nutrition-related practice areas including clinical nutrition, weight management counseling, health and wellness and nutrition education. Kate has worked as a nutrition consultant to the Campbell Soup Company since 2005.
Kate Barrett is a senior manager of Community Affairs at The Campbell Soup Company. In her role, she oversees and manages the company’s direct philanthropic giving – through both the Campbell Soup Foundation and the company’s signature philanthropic program, Campbell’s Healthy Communities. Both programs focus on grant making that strengthens and empowers healthy communities in the locations where Campbell has operations, particularly through increasing access to and knowledge about healthy food and its effects on health. Prior to joining Campbell in June 2017, Kate was a project director at The Center for High Impact Philanthropy, and before that, she worked in management consulting. Kate received her MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and her bachelor’s degree in Public Health from Brown University. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and two children.