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This World Food Day, Cargill employees team up to work toward #ZeroHunger

October 15, 2018

Standing shoulder to shoulder, volunteers in brightly colored shirts weigh and pass fresh vegetables along a busy production line. Above the sounds of potatoes tumbling into mesh bags and baskets of spaghetti squash sliding from station to station, you can hear the chatter of 40 Cargill employees and retirees who came to volunteer at Second Harvest Heartland food bank in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. 

“They started our shift educating us as volunteers on the need,” said Susan Hartman, a communications manager with Cargill. “And even though we work in the food business, it’s such a great reminder of the need that’s out there and the importance of organizations like this.”

In communities around the globe, Cargill volunteers are coming together in honor of World Food Day to help end hunger by taking action locally.

Every year on October 16th, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) commemorates World Food Day to raise awareness about food insecurity and promote nutritious diets for all. The theme this year is #ZeroHunger, and the goal is to work together to ensure everyone has access to safe, healthy and nutritious food. 

As the FAO points out in its recent report on the state of global food security and nutrition, today more than 820 million people around the world are suffering chronic undernourishment. Many of the Cargill volunteers at Second Harvest Heartland were surprised at the scale of the need in Minnesota alone, where 1 in 11 households is affected by hunger. 

“Learning about how many people don’t have enough food on their tables, it’s pretty eye opening,” said Madison Niemann, an account manager at Cargill. “It’s so critical and I’m so happy that we’re all able to be here and contribute right here where the crisis is happening.”

The power of partnerships

Since 2010, Cargill employees and retirees have volunteered more than 15,000 hours with Second Harvest Heartland. Part of the Feeding America Network, the food bank serves as a regional distribution hub for food shelves, pantries and other agencies. In 2017, it helped provide more than 81 million meals to nearly 1,000 partner organizations serving 59 counties in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

“We depend in a huge way on volunteers,” said Rob Zeaske, CEO of Second Harvest Heartland. “From the volunteers in our warehouse to the years of support around our produce program to the strategic and skilled volunteering from Cargill board members and partners, a lot of this happens because of support from Cargill.”

For Cargill, the partnership with Second Harvest Heartland is a strong example of the power of working together toward a common goal. In addition to providing volunteer support, we provide product donations and expertise on topics ranging from food safety to capturing fresh produce that would otherwise go to waste. 

“We share the same purpose of getting food from places of access to places of deficit,” said Cargill CEO Dave MacLennan, who participated in the volunteer shift along with several other members of the Executive Team. “We do that on a global basis. Second Harvest Heartland does that on a national basis and on a local basis. It makes for a great partnership.”