Protein manufacturers support charitable causes
By Kathleen Furore
In March 2018, the team at Weber, Inc. in Kansas City, Missouri, received a short note from the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry of Kansas City, thanking the company for its weekly donation of deli meat and cheese. The message, in part, read:
“We continue to be grateful for your generous support of the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry…The feedback we get from community members that rely on the pantry is gratitude for the meat that they would not be able to afford…”
Chief Executive Officer of Weber, Inc.
Photo of a bacon demonstration at the Weber North American Technology Center.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to donate this food to St. Vincent,” Jarrod McCarroll, CEO/President of Weber, Inc., says. “They do a remarkable job feeding families within the community and we are honored to be a part of their team.”
Like many companies in the food industry, Weber uses its position to support local and national charities, including many that alleviate hunger. While some of the donations are monetary, others—like those made to the food pantry—involve the distribution of hundreds of pounds of sliced deli meats and cheeses produced during product demonstrations within the company’s North American Technology Center, according to McCarroll.
“In addition to the work we do with St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, Weber also contributes to several other programs including Habitat for Humanity, the KC Pet Project, the North Kansas City Schools’ SAGE program for gifted children, the SAVE FOOD Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction, and the Defeat Hunger Campaign (part of the Food Processing Suppliers Association’s Giving Back initiative), which also includes monetary donations to Kansas City Food Bank,” says McCarroll.
From regularly scheduled donations like Weber’s to those made during times of unexpected peril, protein processors and the clients they serve are stepping up to the plate to help those in need.
Most recently, Jersey Mike’s subs fed local authorities and volunteers and provided free sub cards to those donating blood after the Nov. 7 shooting in Thousand Oaks, California. Just days later, restaurant employees were on the front lines feeding first responders battling the Camp Fire in Northern California that destroyed so many homes and lives, Nation’s Restaurant News reported. Those weren’t isolated efforts. During the company’s annual Day of Giving (this year on March 28), 1,360 Jersey Mike’s restaurants donated 100 percent of sales to more than 170 different charities nationwide.
Wisconsin cheese companies donated 17,000 pounds of cheese to Houston's food bank in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
During Hunger Action Month this past August, Tyson Foods teamed with Walmart and Bimbo Bakeries USA to donate 16,500 pounds of food to Facing Hunger Foodbank through a partnership with Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization.
In August 2017, 26 Wisconsin cheese companies donated 17,000 pounds of cheese to Houston’s largest food bank in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
And Smithfield Foods’ Helping Hungry Homes® initiative provides nutritious, high-quality protein to food banks, school nutrition programs, disaster relief efforts, and community outreach programs. In 2017 alone, Smithfield contributed $27.4 million in food, cash, and in-kind donations.
This year, 1,360 Jersey Mike’s restaurants donated 100 percent of sales to more than 170 different charities nationwide.
Contributing to charitable organizations is a feel-good practice that helps those in need.
But the benefits of donating extend beyond those who receive gifts of time, food or money.
According to a recent study from Great Place to Work (greatplacetowork.com), the research partner for Fortune’s annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, “…giving back is associated with greater employee retention, higher levels of brand ambassadorship on the part of workers and more enthusiastic employees.”
As Ed Frauenheim, director of research and content at Great Place to Work wrote in a Fortune commentary, “Staffers who believe their organizations give back to the community are a striking 13 times more likely to look forward to coming to work, compared to employees who do not perceive their employers to be generous toward the community.”
“Staffers who believe their organizations give back to the community are a striking 13 times more likely to look forward to coming to work...”
– Ed Frauenheim, director of research and content at Great Place to Work
The Customer Connection
Giving back, of course, is a wonderful gesture – and companies that regularly reach out to those in need don’t do it expecting anything in return.
But business is business, after all. And statistics show that companies that give back can, indeed, reap some bottom line benefits in the form of higher customer loyalty – especially from those all-important Millennial consumers.
And while Millennials seek out brands they believe have a “social conscious,” the move to support companies that give back isn’t limited to younger generations alone.
As Jeannie Walters, CEO of 360Connext – consulting firm specializing in customer and employee engagement and connections like social media – told Multichannel Merchant, “…it’s not just that demographic. Most of us are looking for a ‘better reason to buy’ these days.”
That means meat and cheese manufacturers – companies especially well-poised to donate to charitable organization and communities in need – have a prime opportunity to give the clients they serve and the consumers who ultimately purchase their products a “better reason to buy”… and help others and themselves in the process.
“U.S. Millennials are receptive to cause marketing and are more likely than non-Millennials to purchase items related to a particular cause (37 percent vs. 30 percent). They also expect companies to care about social issues and will reward those that partner with the right causes,” according to a post about charitable giving from Multichannel Merchant (multichannelmerchant.com).
Giving Opportunities for NAMI members
Are you a packer or processor of animal proteins, or someone who is otherwise involved in the meat industry, looking for a way to give back to those in need?
If so – and if you’re a member of the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) – consider doing so through the Meating the Need – a partnership the American Meat Institute (AMI) formed in 1989 with Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization.
“Through this partnership, North American Meat Institute (NAMI) member companies donate surplus meat and poultry to Feeding America food banks nationwide, putting valuable protein foods on the tables of America's hungry,” information from NAMI explains.
The benefits of contributing to Feeding America through Meating the Need partnership are many.
“Members of the Feeding America network exceed the highest food safety and storage standards, ensuring that donations remain safe all the way to the table. Feeding America is the most efficient network of hunger-relief charities. In 2007, Forbes magazine gave Feeding America a 98 percent charitable commitment rating,” NAMI information notes. “This means that 98 percent of donations to Feeding America go directly to feeding hungry people. Supporters of Feeding America join others in the meat industry’s coordinated effort to Meat the Need of hungry people across the country.”
An added bonus: Food and product donations to Feeding America are tax-deductible.
For more information, visit: www.meatinstitute.org/ht/d/sp/i/203/pid/203.